Cancer Tests That Can Save Your Life
The American Cancer Society (ACS) offers these general screening recommendations for healthy women. If you have certain risk factors or symptoms, work with your doctor, who can create a cancer screening schedule that is right for you. It is important to remember that people of any age can get cancer, but the risk for most cancers increases with age. The following is advice from ACS on how to watch for common cancers in young and middle-aged women. Since screening tests and exams are the best way to catch cancer early, carefully check to make sure you are getting what you need.
Breast CancerIn women, breast cancer is the most common cancer other than skin cancer. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in women.
Screening TestsThe ACS recommends mammogram screenings for breast cancer. Mammograms use low-dose x-rays to make a picture of your breast tissue. The ACS recommends having a mammogram every year starting at age 40. You can continue to have this exam yearly if you are in good health. Due to family history, genetics, or other factors, some women may also want to have an MRI in addition to mammograms. Your doctor can help you decide if additional screening is recommended for you.
Cervical CancerThanks to widespread screening with Pap smears , cervical cancer has declined over the past 30 years. This type of cancer is usually found in women aged 50 or younger, but it can occur at any age.
Screening TestsThe ACS and many other health organizations recommend the following guidelines for cervical cancer screening:
- If you are aged 21-29 years—It is recommended that you have the Pap test every 3 years.
- If you are aged 30-65—It is recommended that you have the Pap test along with the human papillomavirus (HPV) test every 5 years. (Or, you can continue to have just the Pap test every three years.)
- If you are aged 65 or older—You may be able to stop having Pap and HPV tests if you have had normal results. Normal results include 3 normal results in a row and no abnormal results in the past 10 years.