Cancer screenings cannot prevent cancer, but they do allow us to check your body for it before any symptoms appear. Regular screenings can help to detect breast cancer, cervical cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Breast cancer screenings
The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women between the ages of 50-74 years old should get a mammogram every two years. If you are between the ages of 40-49, we can discuss how often you should get a mammogram, but 40 is usually the point in which a discussion should take place.
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast, while a breast MRI uses radio waves and magnets to take pictures of the breast. If you are at a high risk for breast cancer, we may schedule both an MRI and a mammogram. Breast MRIs are not usually used for women at an average risk, since MRIs could look abnormal even without the presence of cancer.
Cervical cancer screenings
With regular screenings and follow-ups, cervical cancer is the easiest gynecological problem to prevent. The Pap test (or Pap smear) and the HPV test are the two screenings that we provide. Pap smears look for precancers and cell changes on the cervix that might become cancerous when not appropriately treated. The HPV test, on the other hand, looks for cell changes due to human papillomavirus (HPV).
If you are between the ages of 21-65, we recommend scheduling the Pap test. During the Pap test, we examine the vagina and the cervix. A few cells and mucus will be collected from the cervix and surrounding areas. The lab results will tell us if those cells are normal. We might also perform a pelvic exam during your pap smear in order to rule out other issues as well.
We recommend that you discuss the HPV test with us, so that we can determine if it’s right for you.
Ovarian cancer screenings
According to the American Cancer Society, about 20% of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage. When detected early, the cancer is usually localized and about 94% of patients live longer than 5 years after diagnosis. In order to diagnose ovarian cancer, we can perform a transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test. Transvaginal ultrasounds use sound waves to check the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. An ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina to check for any tumors in the ovary.
CA-125 is a protein found in the blood. In most cases, women with ovarian cancer have higher levels of CA-125. The CA-125 blood test acts as a useful marker, because if your CA-125 levels drop, we can know which treatments are actually working.
Screenings in Greenbrae of Marin County
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