Digital images: A life-saving tool

July 15, 2015

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but one may be more valuable when it comes to your health. Medical images – captured by X-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, and other techniques – have spent the last century revolutionizing the way healthcare providers diagnose and treat illness, disease and injury. These images give physicians precise and powerful information that often boost the likelihood of a full recovery.

Recommended screenings, as well as education about recommendations and screening procedures is important in disease detection. Many diseases, if caught early, can be successfully treated and managed.

Mammogram guidelines
Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in women. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Studies show that early detection of breast cancer can improve the chances for successful treatment and increase a patient’s chance for survival. Because of this, it is recommended that women over the age of 40 have an annual mammogram to watch for any changes to the breast.

Colonoscopy guidelines
According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women combined in the U.S. A difficult disease to detect, colon cancer typically does not present symptoms until the disease has advanced.  For this reason, routine colonoscopy screenings are recommended for adults ages 50-75. Regular screenings can identify pre-cancerous lesions, called polyps, before they grow into cancerous cells.  

Other high-risk patients
While routine mammograms and colonoscopies are recommended across the board for certain age groups, additional screenings may be recommended for patients who are considered high-risk for developing certain cancers, such as lung cancer screenings for long-term tobacco users. These types of screenings are highly personalized based on each patient’s medical history, family history of disease and social risk factors. These types of screenings should be decided upon in consultation with your primary care physician.

These services are an important part of overall health and wellness, as they provide physicians the information they need to prevent, diagnose and treat illness and injury. Even better, they increase the likelihood of successful treatment and recovery for patients.