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More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Date:1/15/2009

ccult blood tests or immunochemical tests," Smith said. "We also added CT colonography every five years to the list of acceptable options, as well as stool DNA testing."

The cancer society does not recommend screening for other cancers, such as prostate or lung cancer, Smith noted. "We believe that men should hear about the pros and cons of testing for early prostate cancer," he said.

Smith noted two trials are underway that could determine whether screening for prostate cancer is beneficial. Results of these trials are not expected for several years, he added.

There are also ongoing trials to see if long-term smokers could benefit from lung cancer screening with spiral CT scans, Smith said.

Screening for other cancers, such as ovarian, bladder or pancreatic cancer, has not been proven effective. "We don't have effective screening tests for those cancers, and we don't know whether early diagnosis truly is beneficial, and we don't know if there is a favorable balance of benefits to harms," Smith said.

Smith also thinks that getting a full body scan to look for cancer is a bad idea. "A full body may not be the most effective way of using the technology to find cancer, and it can potentially find things that are not cancer but can't be determined not to be cancer," he said. "That's going to require exploratory surgery or other tests that could run up a high bill."

Smith believes the money would be better spent getting screening that has been shown to be beneficial and effective.

A report from the cancer society published in November in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that the number of men and women in the United States getting and dying from cancer had dropped -- the first decline since such statistics were released in 1998.

The drop in cancer rates is attributed mostly to fewer cases of lung, prostate and colorectal cancer among men and fewer cases of breast and
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