Knowing when to schedule important women’s health screenings

Preventive health screenings are an essential part of an overall wellness plan for women. Although your personal health history will dictate when and how often you need certain screening tests, there are some general guidelines to help you understand what kind of schedule you should follow. Here is a look at some screenings that most women can benefit from having and the recommended timeline for having them. Be sure to consult with your own women’s health specialist to make the right decisions for your needs.

Mammograms
Mammograms are X-ray screenings of your breast tissue. They are performed to look for abnormal changes that could indicate the presence of cancerous or precancerous cells. Mammograms, along with clinical breast exams, play a central role in preventive care for breast cancer.

Most women should begin having mammograms between ages 40 and 50 every one to two years. However, if you have a personal or family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, your physician may recommend that you begin your screenings earlier or that you have them more often.

Pap tests and HPV screenings
These tests are usually done in conjunction with each other during well woman gynecological exams. Pap tests look for signs of cervical cancer, while HPV screenings are used to help women understand their risk of cervical cancer.

These tests should usually begin by age 21. Between the ages of 21 and 29, women should have a Pap test every three years. Between 30 and 65, women should have a Pap and HPV test every five years or a Pap test only every three years. More frequent testing is usually not recommended for women unless they have an elevated risk of cervical cancer.

Colonoscopies
A colonoscopy is performed to spot signs of colorectal cancers. During a colonoscopy, polyps that are in the colon may also be removed so that they do not become cancerous.

Women usually start having colonoscopies at age 50. The time between tests depends on your family history. You may also need earlier screening of colorectal cancer runs in your family.

As explained in the video, scheduling an appointment for women’s health services in West Hills is easy. Call West Hills Hospital and Medical Center today at (818) 676-4321 to get a referral to the right specialist for your needs.

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