Receiving a cancer diagnosis can change your life in a moment. While no one wants to learn they have cancer, it’s often true that the earlier you receive the diagnosis, the better your prognosis is. That’s why early detection is so crucial, as illustrated by the World Health Organization.

Certain types of cancers respond well to treatment, provided they are caught in time. One component of early detection involves educating patients so they’re aware of the signs and symptoms of common types of cancers. The medical community is also encouraged to be aware of these symptoms, even when they’re vague and mimic other disorders. This includes problems with wound healing, trouble with digestion that never resolves, or other chronic issues.

Screening is also important, and it’s up to medical staff to properly screen patients with a greater risk of cancer. Some types of cancer screenings should include a wide selection of people. This includes breast and cervical cancers. However, other types of cancer screenings should only involve individuals with a higher risk or those with a family history.

The National Cancer Institute explains some of the benefits of early detection. For instance, Pap testing, which involves taking samples of cervical cells, greatly reduced the rate of cervical cancer deaths after it was introduced. Other types of cancers, including breast and colon cancers, can also be detected early using the proper screening methods, which has decreased the number of deaths associated with them. While research is ongoing to make early screening more effective for many different types of cancer, having a good relationship with your medical team is key.