Screening tests are a vital part of your healthcare, specifically cancer screening tests are important to catch precancerous changes or cancer in its early stages. While continuously changing, we follow guidelines from The American Cancer Society and The American College of OB/GYN. We keep up-to-date with the current recommendations and tailor these to our specific patient population.
In general, cervical cancer testing starts at age 21. Pap smear testing and testing for the human papilloma virus (HPV) are the methods that we use. Whether done alone or in combination, the testing interval is determined by your age and medical history. All women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups. We also offer and recommend the HPV vaccine for women through the age of 26.
Endometrial Cancer (Uterine Cancer)
During menopause, women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding or spotting. There are many causes of postmenopausal bleeding that are benign, including uterine polyps and fibroids. However, endometrial hyperplasia and cancer are precancerous and cancerous causes of abnormal bleeding (or spotting) in the menopause years. At Partners OB/GYN we take a detailed history, perform examinations, and can use ultrasound to view the uterus, uterine lining, and ovaries. A biopsy of the uterine lining helps determine whether there is a concern for cancer.
We discuss guidelines and recommendations about breast cancer screening with our patients at their annual exams. Additionally, you should report new or concerning changes in your breasts. We follow the general guidelines listed below:
- Women ages 40 to 44 have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening.
Some women, because of family history, genetic tendency, or other factors, should be screened at shorter intervals or with MRIs in addition to their mammograms. Talk with a Partners OB/GYN healthcare provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
For colorectal cancer screening, the recommendation is to start regular screening at age 45. This can be done with a test that looks for signs of cancer in a stool sample or with an examination that visualizes the colon and rectum (colonoscopy). If you choose to be screened with a test other than colonoscopy, any abnormal test result needs to be followed up with a colonoscopy. With normal colonoscopy, the recommendation is to repeat the test every 10 years. If a precancerous polyp is found, repeat testing will be advised by the colonoscopy specialist. Regular screening in healthy adults should be continued through age 75, and may continue past this age if any testing irregularities were found on previous tests. We will recommend local colonoscopy specialists to perform this testing.
Make an appointment to visit our office, discuss your concerns, and have Partners OB/GYN care for you today!