Preventing any sort of disease or health issue begins with taking initiative. For those with a family history or personal experience with cancer, it is wise to get educated on ways to stay healthy. The first step in understanding your health is to get screened for cancer-related symptoms and other diseases—screening is a smart habit for anyone looking to stay healthy.
Many of common types of screenings are covered under Medicaid. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can provide children with access to routine check-ups, doctor’s visits, and immunizations, which can help guide children towards healthy lifestyle choices. Both Medicaid and CHIP also have state-run programs in each state to help provide coverage to all those who qualify across the country. Medicaid can also provide services for Tobacco Cessation, since tobacco usage is one of the primary causes of a number of chronic diseases including cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides further information about both CHIP coverage and Medicaid coverage.
- It is recommended that women get mammographies starting at the age of 50 and every two years thereafter.
- If you are a woman age 21 to 29, it is recommended to get a Pap test at least every three years to screen for cervical cancer.
- From ages 30 to 65, one should get screened for cervical cancer at least every three years, with a regular Pap test, or at least every five years, if you get a HPV test in addition to your regular Pap test.
- For colorectal cancer, if you are ages 50 to 75, get screened regularly.
If you don’t have insurance and need help finding free or low cost screenings, use this interactive map to find local screening centers for breast and cervical cancer in your area.
Skin cancer, the most common form of cancer, does not have any direct screenings but is one that can often be easily noticed. The A-B-C-D-E’s of melanoma are an important way to check your skin for skin cancer:
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
If a spot on your skin matches one or multiple of these warning signs, you should consult your healthcare provider to determine if it truly is melanoma. If you have a family history with one of these (or any) types of cancer or have some of the other risk factors for cancer, consult your healthcare provider to determine the right age for you to start screening and how frequently you should be tested.
If you would like to learn more about cancer and cancer prevention, visit the CDC’s website, Healthfinder.gov, or the National Institute of Health’s Cancer.gov. You can also read more about how to apply for healthcare coverage through either Medicaid or CHIP on Benefits.gov.