Routine clinical breast exams and mammograms are the primary methods used to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms use x-rays to obtain detailed images of the breast tissue which can be evaluated for abnormalities.
Ovarian cancer screening uses two approaches:
Unfortunately, CA-125 levels can also become elevated for reasons other than cervical cancer, so the results of this test can be inconclusive. Transvaginal ultrasound can detect masses, but cannot determine if they're cancerous or benign. When a mass is detected, a biopsy may be performed to obtain a tissue sample.
Cervical cancer screening is performed using a Pap test during a routine pelvic exam using a long swab to obtain a sample of cells from the surface of the cervix. The sample is sent to a lab and evaluated for the presence of abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are detected, a second Pap test may be performed or a second type of exam called a colposcopy may be performed using a lighted magnifying device to evaluate the areas where the abnormal cells were found. HPV tests use a similar approach to screen for the human papillomavirus as well.
The American Cancer Society recommends:
There are no routine guidelines for ovarian cancer screening at this time. Generally, ovarian cancer screening is performed for women with risk factors for the disease, including a family history.
Screening for genetic causes of cancer such as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer and Lynch Testing for Colon cancer are also offered by the center to those whose family history puts the at increased risk of these cancers and others.
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