MHR After Dark wants you to know the importance of visiting your doctor to receive your reproductive screens. Both men and women are screened for various conditions, so let’s learn what these screens are, why they are important and how often the screenings are recommended.
Pap smears – All women between the ages 21-65 and before 21 if sexually active. Women ages 21-29 should screen every three years. 30 and over every three to five years. A Pap test looks at the cells of the cervix to determine if there are any abnormalities such as cancer or precancerous cells.
After Dark Fact: According to the National Cancer Institute, pap smear screenings reduce the risk of cervical cancer and deaths by at least 80%.
Pelvic Exams – All women, generally starting at 21 and before if sexually active. A pelvic exam looks for any growths or abnormalities on your external and internal reproductive organs, including the vagina, uterus and ovaries, as well as the bladder and rectum.
After Dark Fact: Pelvic exams can detect uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, as well as any other uncomfortable symptoms that may need to be addressed.
HPV – All women who are sexually active should be screened for the Human Papilloma Virus. This screening is usually done during the pap screening unless it’s found as a cause of an abnormal pap. Health problems associated with HPV includes genital warts (found on the vagina, cervix, and/or skin) and cervical cancer.
After Dark Fact: Approximately 10,400 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer that was most likely caused by HPV between 2006 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mammograms use x-ray images to examine breasts for any abnormalities such as tumors. During this screening your bare breast is briefly compressed between two plates on the mammogram machine. The machine will then capture two views of each breast. Women are recommended to have mammograms at age 40 and then annually every year after that. It is strongly recommended that you speak with your primary care physician to determine when to begin this screening if you may be a candidate of certain risk factors.
After Dark Fact: Mammogram screenings have been associated with a 15 to 20% relative reduction in death from breast cancer in women aged 40 to 74, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Prostate Screening (PSA) is recommended at the age 50. Prostate screening looks for warning signs of prostate cancer. Early detection tests can’t tell for sure whether cancer is present. If the results of one or more of these tests are abnormal, a prostate biopsy may be done.
Testicular screening is recommended daily to identify subtle changes in the testicles that could help detect testicular cancer early, when it's easy to treat. Look for swelling. Hold your penis out of the way and examine the skin of the scrotum. Examine each testicle. Using both hands, place your index and middle fingers under the testicle and your thumbs on top.
Gently roll the testicle between your thumbs and fingers. Look and feel for any changes to your testicle. These could include hard lumps, smooth rounded bumps, or new changes in the size, shape, or consistency of the testicle.
After Dark Fact: Routine testicular self-exams can give you a greater awareness of the condition of your testicles and help you detect changes.
Colorectal other screening tests for colorectal cancer, such as fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography are recommended for men at the age of 50. To identify and remove precancerous polyps or early cancers. You may need to be screened earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.
After Dark Fact: With regular screening, most polyps can be found and removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when it's small and easier to treat.