Cancer prevention advice from Dr. Beth Donaldson

Don’t shy away from the “C” word: early screening for peace of mind

When we talk about disease prevention, cancer is the one that most often comes to mind.  It seems like something we have no control over, but there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk.

To start, ensure you’re getting screened as early and as often as medically indicated to take control of your health.

The big ‘C’ strikes fear in many people. At Copeman, we don’t shy away from it. In fact, we put it front and centre with every client that walks through our door.

Approximately 50% of us will get cancer at some point in our lifetime, but this shouldn’t be the scary part of the conversation. The scary part of the conversation is that many people aren’t screened for appropriate cancers at regular intervals.

For women, the majority of cancers will be breast, lung, colon, uterine, thyroid, lymphoma and skin, in descending order.

For men, the majority are prostate, colon, lung, bladder, lymphoma, kidney and skin.

There will be different screening recommendations based on your age and gender.  Take a look at the following chart with the recommended tests you should discuss with your doctor:

Cancer Screenings by Age & Gender

All ages 20s 30s 40s 50s and older



Kidney (urine)

CBC for blood disorders

Women: Pap smear

Men: Testicular exam

Both: Skin check for melanoma and other skin cancers


Similar to 20s

Breast exams added for women

Men: Prostate

Women: Mammograms

Both: FIT testing for colon cancer

Both men & women: Colonoscopy

Possible lung cancer screening if smoking history

The most important thing about these cancers is that they can be screened for.  Personal and family histories, a physical exam, standard lab tests and imaging are all important for preventing cancer, or to help detect it early.

For example, five-year survival rates for colon cancer improve by 82% when caught early.  The same is true for breast cancer by 76%.  The key is getting in to see your physician, allowing them to get to know you and your health history, and ensure screening at appropriate times and intervals.

Five Year Cancer Survival Rates

Cancer type Early detection Late detection
Colorectal 90% 8%
Breast 97% 21%
Prostate 100% 34%
Melanoma 96% 12%
Cervical 92% 15%

Source: American Cancer Society

Our goal is to find it early, and act on it quickly.

Of course there are some cancers you just can’t realistically screen for, and they can come out of the blue for any of us, such as pancreatic and ovarian. But if you’re familiar with changes in your body, and visit your health team regularly, these rare cancers can often be caught early enough and be treated.

And if you ensure you’re building mental and physical resilience through stress reduction, exercise, sleep, a healthy diet, smoking cessation and alcohol reduction, you’ll be able to fight the cancer with more strength for a more successful outcome.

We are fortunate at Copeman to work with an amazing team of healthcare professionals who hold our clients’ health as their utmost priority.

Clients get to spend more time with their physician, attend healthy living seminars, review prevention with diet and exercise teams, and get screened at appropriate, personalized intervals. This service is second to none.

We help clients build resilience for the dreaded day (remember, 1 in 2) that cancer may come their way. If diagnosed with cancer, we work together with our clients and their outside specialized team to ensure support through diagnosis and treatment, and getting back on their feet afterwards.

Bottom line: get in and get screened. It could save your life.