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What Screening Tests Do I Need?

Many women have questions about which tests they need to screen for medical problems.


The recommended screenings for women are:


Pap Smears - According to the American Cancer Society (ACS)

  • Ages 21-29: every 3 years

  • Ages 30-65: every 3 years or with HPV testing (Human Papilloma virus testing) every 5 years.

  • After age 65 women can discontinue testing if they have had 3 negative consecutive pap tests or 2 negative Pap tests with HPV screen within the 10 years before discontinuing the screen and the most recent test was within the last 5 years.

  • The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 9-14 for the prevention of Human Papilloma virus (HPV virus causes cervical , vaginal and throat cancer ).  The vaccination is safe and now it is approved for men and women up to the age of 45.



            In women at low or average risk for breast cancer the American Cancer Society recommended they begin at age 40 yearly intervals until age 55.  After age 55 they may be performed either annually or every 2 years.  After age 75 they may be performed depending on the patient health.

            The type of mammogram that is recommended is the 3-D type (Tomosynthesis).  This type is less painful, compared to the old method, and studies have shown a decrease in false positive test results and a increase detection in heart cancer.


Colorectal Cancer Screening

According to the American Cancer Society at age 50:

  • Take home stool for blood testing yearly.

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.

  • Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years OR

  • Completed Tomographic Colonography every 5 years.


Most clinicians discourage patients older than 85 years from screening for Colorectal cancer.


Osteoporosis Screening (DXA)

          The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends DXA test in women age 65 and men at age 70 if they have no risk factors for Osteoporosis.  If they have risk factors for Osteoporosis such as a parent with a hip fracture or they are on certain medications (eg: steroids, anti depressants) or have a medical condition (eg: Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis) then a DXA scan can be performed at age 50.  Follow up DXA exams are performed every 2-5 years depending on a patients risk for fracture.


Cardiovascular Disease Screening

  • Diabetes  - at age 45 patients should have a fasting blood sugar and a hemoglobin A1C.  Blood sugar is considered normal if it is less than 100mg/DL or the Hemoglobin A1C is less than 5.7%.  If normal it can be repeated every 2-3 years.  Diabetes is diagnosed if the fasting blood sugar is 126mg/DL or more or the Hemoglobin A1C is 6.5% or more.  If a person is overweight or has risk factors for Diabetes (eg. family history, delivery of large babies), then these should be performed yearly.

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) – your blood pressure should be taken on your yearly medical visit.  The new definition of hypertension is a blood pressure of 130/80 or higher. Hypertension can often be controlled with diet, exercise and in some cases medication.


Remember that many cancers are preventable:

  • Avoid tobacco

  • Maintain a healthy body weight

  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains 

  • Limit trans-fats and red meat

  • Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day

  • You should perform at least 30 – 45 minutes of cardio exercise (or walk 10,000 steps) daily and perform muscle strengthening exercise (weights, resistance bands) for 20 minutes 3 times a week but not on consecutive days.


For additional information, or to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific situation, call (631) 724-6262.

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