Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare

Detecting cancer early

Breast health

Medical research shows an annual mammography screening is the most effective method for detecting early-stage breast cancer.

In addition, a recent study proved that digital mammograms find tumors traditional mammograms can miss. These are especially effective for women under age 50, pre-menopausal women and women with dense breasts.

Learn more about breast imaging, breast cancer and breast cancer treatment options through our Breast Health Program.

Skin exams are used to screen for skin cancer

If you find a worrisome change in your skin, tell your doctor. Regular skin checks by a doctor are particularly important for people who have already had skin cancer. If an area on the skin looks abnormal, your doctor will usually do a biopsy. He or she will remove as much of the suspicious tissue as possible with a local excision. A pathologist will examine tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.

Melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, can be seen by the naked eye. Usually, melanoma grows for a long time under the top layer of skin, called the epidermis, but does not grow into the deeper layer of skin, called the dermis. This allows time for skin cancer to be found early. Melanoma is easier to cure if it is found before it spreads.

Skin cancer screenings are offered each spring at the Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare. Local dermatologists serve as physician partners in our fight to prevent and detect cancers early. Please watch your newspapers, television advertisements and community flyers for dates and times of screenings.

Prostate cancer screenings

Prostate cancer screenings are offered annually through the Cancer Centers of Northern Arizona Healthcare. These events are publicized in printed materials, on flyers and on local cable channels.

Prostate cancer is found mainly in older men. Although many men develop prostate cancer, most diagnosed with this disease do not die from it. Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in white men. Additionally, African-American men are more likely to die from the disease than white men. Risk factors for prostate cancer include the following:

  • Being 50 years of age or older.
  • Being African-American
  • Having a brother, son or father who had prostate cancer.
  • Eating a diet high in fat or drinking alcoholic beverages.

We may perform a digital rectal exam or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. A digital rectal exam, or DRE, is an exam of the rectum. The doctor or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.

Prostate-specific antigen test:

A prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, test measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made mostly by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men with prostate cancer. The level of PSA may also be high in men who have an infection or inflammation of the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, which means an enlarged but noncancerous prostate.

If a man has a high PSA level and a biopsy of the prostate does not show cancer, a prostate cancer gene 3, or PCA3, test may be done. This test measures the amount of PCA3 in the urine. If the PCA3 level is high, another biopsy may help diagnose prostate cancer.

Scientists are studying the combination of PSA testing and digital rectal exam as a way to get more accurate results from the screening tests.


We are here to help answer your questions or assist you with scheduling an appointment. Call us today.