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How primary care doctors help with finding cancer early

Regular cancer screenings and knowing your risk factors can allow doctors to detect cancer when it’s easier to treat. Sponsored by Overlake Medical Center.

If your cancer screenings were delayed during the pandemic, it’s important to make a plan to get back on track. Your primary care physician can help you make a cancer screening plan based on your age, family history, and risk factors. 

“We would like to see you come in annually for a preventative visit,” said Dr. Christy Chan, MD, Primary Care, Overlake Medical Center and Clinics, Kirkland. “It’s during these visits that we catch up on any screenings that one may need, including even vaccinations. Talking about your family history and one’s own risk is very important.”

During these appointments, you can talk about any symptoms that may be an issue, like bleeding, coughing, unexplained weight loss, or breast lumps.

“That’s what our job is as primary care providers is to help guide you through the symptoms, and hopefully give you peace of mind and walk you through the process as needed,” Dr. Chan said. 

Common cancer screenings and guidelines include: 

  • Cervical cancer: Women at average risk should consider the HPV vaccine before age 21. Women in their 20s should consider HPV testing and receive a pap every three years, and those ages 30 to 65 should continue normal pap smears.
  • Breast cancer: Women at average risk should start annual mammograms at age 40.
  • Prostate cancer: Men with average risk should be screened beginning at age 50. Start screening at 45 if you have a higher than average risk, and at age 40 if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer before age 65.
  • Skin cancer: Depending on risk factors, women and men should perform self-checks and have regular skin exams with a healthcare provider.

“We want to catch things early because if the cancer is caught earlier, it’s more treatable and you just have a better quality of life,” Dr. Chan said. 

To learn more about screenings and how your primary care doctor can help you create a personalized plan, visit the Overlake Medical Center website.

Segment Producer Joseph Suttner. Watch New Day Northwest 11 a.m. weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day. 

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