Regardless of a woman's age, being proactive and having routine preventative check-ups is key in discovering potentially dangerous illnesses before they result in larger issues. Below, the women's health experts at Westchester Medical Center explain the important procedures for women of every age.
Age 21: Pap test for cervical cancer. Doctors recommend this screening every three years until age 30 and then every five years, along with Human papillomavirus (HPV) co-testing, ending at age 65 if you’re not at high risk for cervical cancer. Discuss concerns with your OB-GYN at your annual exam.
“If there’s a change in sexual status, the patient should have an interim visit to her gynecologist and repeat testing as she enters into a new relationship,” said Dr. Christine Pellegrino, medical oncologist at MidHudson Regional Hospital and Westchester Medical Center, members of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
Age 40, 45-50: Mammography for breast cancer. “The exact age to begin has been a topic of controversy over the past decade,” said Pellegrino. “Personally, I believe that mammography should begin at age 40 and repeat annually, because early detection and diagnosis are key.” Different medical groups have different guidelines. That said, the starting age should be an informed and shared decision between you and your doctor that weighs benefits and drawbacks.
“Women at average risk of breast cancer should be offered screening at age 40,” said Dr. Zoe Weinstein, breast surgeon at HealthAlliance Hospital: Mary’s Avenue Campus in Kingston and MidHudson Regional Hospital, members of WMCHealth. “Women with a family history of breast cancer before menopause may require screening before 40. Women with increased breast cancer risk because of late menopause, early onset of menses, prior biopsy, dense breasts or use of hormones may require breast ultrasound in addition to mammography.” According to Weinstein, there is no age cut off for annual screenings.
To learn which preventative screenings are recommended for women over 50, continue reading via Advancing Care in the Hudson Valley.