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Women's Health

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Health Checklist for Women Over 40

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Print out this list to keep track of tests and procedures you need after the age of 40 and take it with you to your next doctor's appointment.

Breast Cancer Screening

Procedure/test: What it does: Starting at age: How often: Date performed/results:
Mammogram Checks for breast cancer 40 (or earlier with certain risk factors) Every 1 to 2 years, depending on risk  
Doctor's breast exam May detect breast cancers missed by mammography 20 Annually; Every three years for women 20-40  

Cervical cancer screening (one of the following):

Procedure/test: What it does: Starting at age: How often: Date performed/results:
Pap smear and pelvic exam Checks for cervical cancer 21 Every three years. Women older than 65 may be able to stop testing if your doctor says you're low risk.  
Pap smear plus HPV DNA test and pelvic exam Some experts recommend as more precise means to check for cervical cancer 30 Every five years until age 65, or as recommended by your doctor. Women older than 65 may be able to stop testing if your doctor says you're low risk.  

Colorectal cancer screening:

Procedure/test: What it does: Starting at age: How often: Date performed/results:
Colonoscopy Outpatient procedure in which a doctor inserts a long, flexible instrument - about 1/2 inch in diameter - into the rectum to view the rectum and entire colon. Many experts say colonoscopy is the most accurate colon cancer screening 50 (or earlier with certain risk factors) Every 10 years, more often for those with risk factors, a family history or history of colon polyps.  
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) Stool is tested for blood -- a possible sign of colorectal cancer 50 Annually  
Flexible sigmoidoscopy Outpatient procedure for examining the lower portion of the large intestine, called the sigmoid colon. A special instrument with a tiny camera attached is used. 50 Every 5 years  
Air-contrast barium enema (for those who cannot undergo a routine colonoscopy) Barium is given as an enema, and then air is blown in to make the barium spread over the lining of the colon, producing an outline of the colon on X-ray. This helps to reveal any irregularities in the lining, such as a polyp. 50 Every 5 years  
*Your doctor will pick which screening test is best for you. Your screening schedule may be different depending on your personal and family history.

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