SARASOTA – December 4 though 8 is Cancer Screen Week. Dr. Robert Smith of the American Cancer Society tell us experts say a simple action can have a big impact.

“Cancer Screening Week is intended to raise the public’s awareness about the importance of all the cancer screening tests that are recommended,” Smith said.

So, why exactly are they so important?

“Because when we find cancer before symptoms develop, that cancer usually has not spread, and when we can treat that cancer, chances of less aggressive treatment and successful survival, are very, very high,” Smith said.

Rates of cancer screenings are flattening, even declining, in some areas.

“Which means we’re missing an opportunity to prevent avoidable deaths by finding cancer early,” Smith said.

Debra Stansberry took that opportunity when her doctor recommended she get a mammogram.

“It detected a tumor and i was diagnosed with Stage One breast cancer,” Stansberry said.

Nine years later, she’s speaking to the fact that early detection is key.

“For me it really was,” Stansberry said. “[I’m] very thankful for the mammogram.”

This is just one of many tests that can help stop cancer before it spreads. Dr. Smith says sometimes people get one regular screening but neglect the others.

“We recommend cervical cancer screening for women beginning at the age of 21. We recommend colorectal cancer screening for men and women beginning at the age of 50,” Smith said.

This along with lung cancer screenings if you are a current or former smoker. And if you’re nervous about getting the test, Stansberry’s first piece of advice is to put the fear aside.

“Second is, you know, to actually find out what cancer screening is right for you and then make an appointment with your doctor to go from there,” Stansberry said.

For more information on what cancer screenings most apply to you based on age, gender and health risk, visit Cancer Screen Week or The American Cancer Society.