Pap Test – The Pap test or a Pap smear is important for all women age 21 and above. Sexually active young women under 21 also need Pap tests starting within three years of the first time sexual intercourse happened. The Pap test, originally developed by Dr. George Papanicolaou in the 1950s, detects abnormal changes in cervical cells that may led to cervical cancer if not detected by annual Pap smears.
Prior to the introduction of the Pap test, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death in women. Thanks to Dr. Papanicolaou's research and his hard work developing the Pap smear, cervical cancer is now 15th, among causes of cancer deaths in women with about 3,700 women dying of cervical cancer each year.
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Mammograms – The recommendations for when to begin annual mammography vary among health professionals. Some groups, including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend mammography screening beginning at age 40, while other professional groups including the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians, US Preventative Services at Task Force, as well as the Canadian Task Force on Periodic Health Examination recommend yearly screening beginning at age 50. These differences are due to the fact that the groups who recommend mammograms beginning at age 50, believe that the risks of radiation exposure may outweigh the benefits of screenings beginning at an earlier age.
Younger women at high risk for developing breast cancer also need annual mammograms as ordered by their physicians. Mammograms are safe, relatively painless, and necessary for the early detection of breast cancer. When found early, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is up to 96%, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
More: Mammography Screening