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Doctors perform regular cancer screenings (tests) to look for signs of cancer before symptoms occur. Cancers are easiest to treat in the presymptomatic stages. Screenings are recommended based on a patient’s age, gender, and other risk factors. If a precancerous condition is found during a screening, preventative measures will be taken.
At Dignity Health, we are dedicated to the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. If you are a woman interested in cancer screenings in Arizona, At Dignity Health, we are dedicated to the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer. If you are a woman interested in cancer screenings in Arizona, Find a Doctor near you today or call 844.214.5236 (8222).
Your annual women’s health exam should include a clinical breast exam. During this exam, your doctor will visually and physically check your breasts and underarms for lumps or changes in texture. If you are not at an increased risk for breast cancer, you should get annual mammogram screenings beginning at age 40. Sometimes, the doctor may recommend a breast ultrasound for better imaging.
Unless you are at an increased risk for colon cancer, women between the ages of 50 and 75 should have a colonoscopy once every 10 years. During a colonoscopy, your doctor can check the colon for any suspicious areas using a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope. These areas can be removed for further testing during the exam.
Women with a history of smoking should consider having yearly low-dose CT scans of the lungs starting at age 50. These scans use X-rays to make detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs, allowing your doctor to find small tumors.
Beginning at age 21, every woman should have regular Pap smear tests. During a Pap test, your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina to gently widen it, the doctor then uses a cotton swab to retrieve a sample of cells from your cervix. The sample is sent to a lab where a pathologist will look for precancerous or cancerous cells.
Women with a high risk of developing endometrial cancer might consider yearly endometrial biopsies. Risk factors include estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy, previous cancer of the ovaries or breast, a family history of endometrial cancer, and previous radiation treatment to the pelvis.
Regardless of your age, your doctor should perform a full-body skin exam as a part of your annual physical exam. A skin exam is a visual exam of the entire surface of your skin. If you are at an increased risk for developing skin cancer, you may wish to see a dermatologist.
You may need to have follow-up procedures or tests if you doctor finds anything concerning during your screening. In some cases, the risks of cancer screening and treatments may outweigh the potential benefits after the age of 75. Talk with your doctor about the risks of screening exams.