PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — During this National Cancer Prevention Month, oncologists say keeping up on cancer screenings could save your life.

Dr. Candace Correa, radiation oncologist with UnityPoint Methodist, said the number of cancer screenings dropped precipitously during the pandemic, but have since rebounded. She said the chances for remission are better when cancers are caught through regular screenings.

“If we wait until patients have symptoms, it’s usually more an advanced stage and there’s less treatment options and less cure rates,” she said.

A new report from the American Cancer Society indicates cancer death rates have dropped 33% since 1991.

Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad, radiation oncologist at OSF HealthCare, credits that drop to technological advancements in cancer screening tests.

We have some very good screening tests for breast cancer, for colon cancer and we need to make use of those. We have very good lung cancer screening now which didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he said.

Dr. Correa said mammograms, lung cancer screenings and colonoscopies are essential to catch the big three – breast cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer – in treatable stages, as they are often asymptomatic.

Getting a screening can seem scary, but the benefits outweigh any perceived fears.

“It’s better to know and deal with it than to just kind of stick your head in the sand and pretend it’s not a problem until you have symptoms. Because usually by the time someone has symptoms, it’s an advanced cancer where we can’t do as much about it,” she said.

According to the American Cancer Society, 40 percent of cancers are associated with preventable risk factors like smoking.