Basic preventive cancer should include regular breast self-exams to check for changes in your breasts. Additional screening should include:
Clinical breast exams at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year after age 40
Annual mammograms for women over 40
Starting at age 50, women should receive a colonoscopy every 10 years or undergo a fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test yearly. Other screening options may be done in lieu of or in addition to these tests, depending on the recommendations of your doctor.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy (to check the lower end of the colon) may be performed every five after age 50
Double-contrast barium enemas may be conducted every five years starting at age 50
By the time a woman is a young adult, pap tests should become a regular part of her healthcare routine. Annual exams and Pap tests should begin three years after vaginal intercourse but not later than age 21. For women over 70 who have had three or more consecutive normal pap tests and no abnormal screens in the previous ten years, these tests can be conducted every three years. If you have had a hysterectomy for reasons other than the presence of cancer, pap tests are no longer necessary unless your cervix has been left intact.
Menopausal women should be aware of the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Report any bleeding or spotting to your OB/GYN.
Routine annual exams with either your primary care physician or OB/GYN should include checks for cancers of the thyroid, ovaries, lymph nodes, oral cavity and skin. Discuss the importance of good health habits with your doctor, including precautions around sun exposure and sexual activity, the risks of tobacco use and how to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.