While it may be easy to push a preventive health screening back on your calendar, screenings, especially for cancer, are crucial to your health.

“Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Dr. Jo Gardner, a medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE). “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) provides evidence-based guidelines for cancer screening.”

Providers use these guidelines alongside personal risk factors to help patients receive proper care.

Even though someone may not show signs or symptoms of cancer or other diseases, it is still crucial they receive the recommended screenings for their age.

“The purpose of screening asymptomatic patients is to detect the disease, like cancer, at an early stage when it is easier to treat,” said Gardner. “Once patients develop symptoms, the cancer is usually more advanced and requires treatment that is expensive and not always as effective.”

Preventive screenings do not only apply to cancer.

“Preventive care is crucial in decreasing the likelihood of poor health outcomes later in life,” said Gardner. “Besides cancer, the USPSTF supports periodic cardiovascular risk assessment and recommends screening for chronic illnesses, like hypertension and diabetes, which can cause long-term disability and early death.”

Additionally, Gardner said USPSTF recommends childhood and adult immunizations and screenings for depression, sexually transmitted diseases in high risk individuals, obesity, osteoporosis, tobacco use and unhealthy alcohol and drug use.

Patients can take other preventive measures besides visiting their doctor for cancer screenings. Gardner recommends:

  • Committing to a healthy lifestyle – prioritize spiritual well-being, a balanced diet and regular exercise. Maintain a healthy weight, stress management, adequate sleep and optimum mental health.
  • Considering hazardous behaviors – stop smoking and illicit drug use and maintain a healthy alcohol intake.
  • Complying with safety recommendations – use seat belts in the car, helmets when appropriate and sunscreen outdoors.

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