Early Detection & Prevention
Cancer screening involves medical tests conducted to detect various cancers. These can be performed even when you are healthy and don’t have any signs of illness. The frequency and types of cancer detection tests performed are based on the chances of getting cancer. Your family history of cancer and medical history also help your doctor determine your possibilities of developing cancer. Early detection of cancers makes treating cancer easier and can save your life.
Early detection of female cancers
Early detection tests for some of the female cancers include:
- Breast self-examination should be performed regularly after the age of 20. Any abnormality or change in the look (size, shape or color) or feel (lumps) of your breasts should be reported to your doctor immediately.
- Clinical breast examination should be conducted once every 3 years when you are between the age of 20 to 30 years, and every year after the age of 40.
- You should get a mammography (imaging test of your breasts) done every year starting at age of 40.
- If you have a familial history of breast cancer, an MRI can be performed in addition to mammograms.
Tests for early detection of cervical cancer should begin when a woman is 21 years of age.
- Pap smear test (cells scraped from the cervix region are examined) should be performed once every 3 years starting at age21 to 29 years of age.
- If you are between 30 and 65 years of age, you should undergo an annual Pap smear test as well as a HPV (human papilloma virus) test every 3 years.
- If you are above the age of 65 and have not had any positive results for the Pap smear till date, you need not continue testing for cervical cancer, unless you have a history of cervical cancer.
- Despite being vaccinated for HPV, you should continue with the recommended screening procedure of the HPV test.
Cervical cancer testing is not performed if you are below the age of 20 or if you have had your uterus removed.
Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
You should be well informed about the symptoms and risks of endometrial cancer following menopause, so that you can report any kind of bleeding or spotting immediately to your doctor. If you have a history of uterine cancer, you can have an endometrial biopsy every year.
It is important to include a cancer-related check-up during your periodic health exams.