Feb 13, 2019 9:00 AM

A young asian woman looks worried with her hands folded in front of her face

When you notice something with your body has changed, like a new mole or a lump, you may be worried that it’s cancer. What do you do next?

It is important for us to be familiar with our bodies to notice any abnormal changes. If you find something you are concerned about, the first step is to schedule an appointment with a doctor.

At this appointment, your doctor will ask questions and do a physical exam. They may run some tests or screenings to help answer your questions. Write down any questions you have before your appointment. Most of the time, a change in your body isn’t cancer, but seeing a doctor will help verify that.

The type of doctor you should see depends on what part of the body you are concerned about. Some doctors may require a referral from a primary care physician.

If you are not sure which doctor to visit, start by seeing a primary care physician. They specialize in general knowledge of the entire body and can help run some basic tests or refer you to the right doctor. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms or concerns, even if it seems small. An annual physical or check up with your health care provider can also help find problems before they start. Many illnesses, including cancer, are often easiest to treat when you catch them early.

Screening can help doctors find and treat some types of cancer early. Talk to your health care provider about what cancer screenings are right for you, based on these things:

  • Your gender
  • Your age
  • Your family history

You can also take action to lower your risk of getting cancer. About half of all cancers could be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices.

For more information about any cancer-related topic, visit our Cancer Learning Center.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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