A Woman's Guide to Cancer Screenings

Early detection is the key to treating and surviving cancer. That’s why screenings for cancers—especially the five below—are so important.

Breast cancer. There is a difference of opinion over the right age to start mammography. The American Cancer Society recommends having a mammogram every year starting at age 40—earlier if you’re at high risk—while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends getting one every two years starting at age 50. It really comes down to a personal decision. Weigh the different options with your doctor, then decide.

Cervical cancer. Start scheduling an annual Pap test three years after you become sexually active or no later than age 21. At age 30, you can opt to get screened less frequently if you’ve had normal test results three years in a row.

Colorectal cancer. Plan your first colonoscopy for age 50 as long as you have no other risk factors or symptoms. If you have a history of colon polyps or other factors that put you at increased risk—such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or a family history of colon cancer—talk with your doctor about the best screening schedule for you. Your doctor may recommend more frequent colonoscopies beginning at an earlier age.

Skin cancer. Inspect your skin once a month for suspicious growths or changes in the size and color of moles. Have your doctor check for skin cancer every three years from ages 20 to 39 and yearly after age 40.

Oral cancer. Check your mouth and lips in the mirror once a month for unusual changes or sores. See your dentist every six months so that he or she can you check for oral cancer—especially if you smoke or drink heavily.

Mission Health Care Network | 2525 de Sales Avenue | Chattanooga, TN 37404 | MissionHealth@memorial.org
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