Which Routine Cancer Screenings Should Women Have and When?
We continually hear that preventative efforts and early detection is the recipe for success when it comes to living a prolonged and healthy life. So, which routine screenings are most necessary for women, and at what age?
- The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms beginning at age 40.
- Clinical breast exams (a physical examination of your breasts by a health professional such as a doctor or nurse) should occur about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s. For women over the age of 40, clinical breast exams should be performed annually.
Cervical and Uterine Screenings:
- Cervical cancer screenings should begin at age 21. They should not be performed on women who have had their cervix removed, or women under the age of 21.
- Women 21 and older should have a pap test at least once every 3 years.
- All women should visit their gynecologist annually – your gynecologist will help prioritize screenings and their frequencies.
- Uterine-specific screenings are not common, but some women may have yearly biopsies because of a specific condition or health history.
Colon and Stool Screenings:
- Your primary physician will likely recommend that colon and stool screenings begin at age 50. Various types of screenings include colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests, and sigmoidoscopies. Many of these screenings are dependent upon the results of one another, and your doctor can provide you with necessary frequency. Everyone is different, and findings vary per patient – putting some patients at a higher risk than others.
In addition to routine screenings, be in touch with your body; know how things look and feel, and if something seems abnormal speak up! Telling your health care provider everything is another important step in preventative care!