Cancer Screening

One of the most important parts of cancer prevention is receiving regular screenings. These tests take steps to identify this tragic disease in its pre-cancerous state or early stages. Multiple organizations have developed guidelines for the forms of cancer screening that women should undergo. While the specifics may vary from organization to organization, the theme remains the same. Regular screenings for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers should begin in the late teens to early twenties and continue throughout their lives.
When Should I Begin Cancer Screening?
The specific time when you should begin being screened regularly for cancer is determined by the specifics of your medical history and family history with cancer. When you begin will also be determined by the type of cancer being screened for. Meeting with your physician and going over your medical history is the only way to be certain when the best time is for you to begin your cancer screening.
What is breast self-examination and how should I perform it?
Breast self-examination (BSE) is a simple yet important way for women to monitor their breast health and detect any changes or abnormalities in their breasts. It involves examining your own breasts using your eyes and hands to look for any changes in size, shape, or texture, as well as feel for lumps or thickening in your breast tissue.
​​For a video demonstration on how to perform breast self-examination:
If you notice any changes or abnormalities during BSE, such as a lump, thickening, or changes in the skin or nipples, please make an appointment with your healthcare provider for further evaluation.
Breast Cancer Screening
Women who are 40 years of age or older should consult their physician about receiving regular breast cancer screening in the form of mammography, with those between the ages of 45-54 should be undergoing annual screenings. Following this, it is common for screenings to be rolled back to once every two years, and this frequency may persist as long as you remain in good health. Your doctor might advise earlier screening if:
  • You carry the BRCA-1 or 2 mutations or have an immediate relative that does.
  • Have a family history of breast cancer
Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer screening typically begins at the age of 21, with the specific screening method chosen based on age. Cervical cancer is commonly caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Common screening recommendations for cervical cancer include:
  • Age 21-29 – The recommended frequency for cytology screening alone is every three years.
  • Age 30-65 – Any one of the following options:
    • Cytology alone every 3 years
    • Primary hrHPV testing alone every 5 years is an FDA-approved method.
    • Cotesting, which involves hrHPV testing and cytology, every 5 years, is a recommended approach.
  • Over the Age of 65- Over the Age of 65: For individuals who have undergone regular cervical cancer testing over the past 10 years, no additional testing is necessary. Those who have shown signs of pre-cancerous conditions should continue to be tested for 20 years.
  • Hysterectomy with removal of the cervix: No screening is needed.
Women who have had their cervix removed for reasons unrelated to cervical cancer and have no history of the condition, do not require testing anymore. However, women who have received the HPV vaccination should still undergo pap smears as previously advised.
It's important to note that these recommendations may vary based on individual risk factors and medical history. It's best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate screening schedule for you.