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Article Type: Blog

Women’s Cancer Screenings and New Measures to Keep Your Visit Safe

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You’re doing your best to balance everyday life, family and job obligations while managing concerns about what’s happening in the world. So, it’s understandable your cancer screening may be the last thing on your mind. But as you settle into a new normal and slowly return to your regular activities, it’s time to get back on track with your self-care.  

We’re here for you and will do everything possible to keep you safe when you visit us for your screening, including: 

  • Temperature checks at every facility and entry point 

  • Contactless appointment registration from your car (we can text you when we’re ready for you) 

  • Redesigning our waiting areas to keep people 6 feet apart 

  • Requiring face masks (don’t worry, we’ll supply them) 

  • Separating those with COVID-19 symptoms   

  • Shielding our reception areas 

Taking a first trip out can be scary, but a necessary cancer screening is a valid reason to leave your house. These important screenings are your first line of defense when it comes to safeguarding yourself against cancer and can be lifesaving. They also offer many other benefits — from helping you understand your specific risks to catching cancer early, when it’s most treatable. 

Understand Your Cancer Risk  

Even before you come in to see us, it’s important that you understand your risk for developing certain types of cancer in the future. These risks are called risk factors. If cancer runs in your family, undergoing genetic counseling and testing can help you better understand your risk. Armed with this information, you can take steps to decrease the likelihood that you’ll develop cancer in the future. 

Many cancer types share these common risks. 

  • Age 

  • Alcohol use 

  • Chronic health conditions, especially high blood pressure or diabetes 

  • Family or personal history of cancer 

  • Inactivity  

  • Obesity 

  • Smoking 

If you’d like more information about risks for specific cancer types, your doctor is a great resource for helping you gain additional insight. 

Women’s Essential Cancer Screenings 

By being proactive and undergoing important, doctor-recommended preventive cancer screenings, you can help your provider catch any signs of pre-cancer or early cancer sooner, giving you the best chance at surviving and thriving.  

The following screening guidelines are for people who have an average risk for cancer. If you have an increased risk — due to your family history, for instance — you may need to be screened at an earlier age or more often. Talk to your provider to see what’s right for you.  

Breast Cancer Screening 

Depending on your risk factors and family history, you’ll likely start annual mammograms sometime between the ages of 40 and 50. This test can identify possible early signs of breast cancer.  

If you’re between the ages of 20 and 39 and have no other risk factors, you should undergo a clinical breast exam every three years. If you’re age 40 or older, you should have a clinical breast exam each year. 

Women of all ages should perform a monthly self-exam of their breasts in the shower or in front of a mirror. Use the pads of your index and middle fingers to check your entire breasts in a circular motion. You should check for any abnormal or new lumps, areas of thickening or hardened knots. Also, check your nipples for lumps or discharge. Contact your provider if you notice anything out of the ordinary. 

Cervical Cancer Screenings 

A Pap test and HPV test screen for abnormalities that may indicate pre- or early cervical cancer. Testing positive for HPV helps identify women who may be at risk to develop cervical cancer later on in life. 

Women between the ages 21 to 29 should get a Pap test once every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 years can choose to have a Pap test every three years, an HPV test once every five years, or a Pap test and an HPV test once every five years. Women older than 65 who have had normal screenings and do not have a high risk for cervical cancer do not need to be screened.  

Colorectal Cancer Screenings 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends people with an average risk for colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45, while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises beginning screening at age 50. Talk with your provider about the screening schedule that works best for you. If you have an increased risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to get tested at an earlier age. Ask your provider which test you should have. 

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years  

  • Double contrast barium enema every five years 

  • Fecal immunochemical test annually 

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years 

  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test annually 

  • Stool DNA test every three years 

Endometrial Cancer Screenings 

If you’ve gone through menopause and still have bleeding or spotting, talk to your provider so he or she can order a screening for endometrial cancer. 

Get Screened to Protect Your Health

Our physicians are here and ready to help you take proactive steps for cancer prevention and treatment. And it’s our hope that you have peace of mind knowing we’ve taken measures to help keep you safe when you visit us.  

If you need help finding a doctor, use our convenient  online physician finder. To learn more about cancer screening, detection and treatment, click here.  

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