Women's cancer screening

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Women's cancer screening is an essential tool for early cancer detection in all women who otherwise don't have symptoms or don't recognize the symptoms as being related to cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women 18 years of age have their first cancer screening. This should include general health counseling and a thorough physical examination of the mouth, thyroid, skin, lymph nodes, breasts, and ovaries. A woman should have annual pelvic examinations and a pap test beginning at age 18 or earlier if she is sexually active. An initial baseline mammogram (mam-a-gram) should be done between ages 35 and 40. Between age 40 and 49 mammograms should be performed every one to two years, and she should have a digital rectal exam with her annual pelvic exam and pap test. An endometrial (end-o-me-treal) tissue sampling is suggested at menopause (men-uh-pause) in high-risk women. Beginning at age 50, yearly cancer screening should include a stool test for blood and a mammogram. Examination of the colon by endoscopy (end-oscopy) should be done every three to five years after age 50. Those individuals at higher risk for cancer, such as when a family history of cancer exists, should be screened more frequently. Consult your healthcare provider for the proper timing of such examinations and tests.

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