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25 years
What's an easy way to test for cancer without having to go through specific tests for each different type? Is there a way to test annually for all-around cancer tumors?
Oct 4, 2013

Dr. Jihad Irani Family Medicine
Unfortunately, there is no such a test. Only few cancers can be detected early on thanks to certain tests (what we call "screening"). Breast, cervix (part of the uterus) and colon cancers are typical examples. Better to prevent cancer by adopting healthier lifestyle (no smoking, alcohol in moderation, exercise, etc.). By eating and being healthy, you can lower your risk of having a cancer.
Dr. Zakia Dimassi Pediatrics
Not all cancers have markers (compounds that alert to the presence of a particular cancer type) that circulate in the blood, or specific changes that can be detected on imaging (as in the case of breast cancer). The cancers that are routinely screened for in an attempt to prevent them are breast cancer (in all women after a certain age), cervical cancer (also in all women at a certain age), prostate cancer, and colon cancer in individuals with high risk (like a positive family history).
Another important aspect of screening tests is that:
1 - the cancer tested for has to be common
2 - It has to have a high positive predictive value, , ie it has to detect much more positive cases than negative cases (as opposed to negative predictive value, which tells us how many false positive cases a test can give). This is important because if they PPV is low or the NPV is high, it means a big number of healthy people will undergo further tests and maybe expensive treatments unnecessarily.
3 - it has to be cost effective
4 - the cost of prevention of the disease being tested for should be overall lower than the cost of the treatment of this disease.
For example, recently the necessity of screening for lung cancer has been debated but it was not found to be feasible.
Of course as Dr. Irani has advised: healthy living is key in cancer (and many other diseases) prevention.