ANNUAL EXAM/CERVICAL/BREAST CANCER SCREENING
Annual gynecological exams provide patients and doctors with valuable immunization, screening, counseling, and early detection services, and are a crucial component in the maintenance of a woman’s physical and gynecological health. Unfortunately, these exams and screenings are often brushed aside or delayed as we try to manage our increasingly hectic schedules.
At the Women’s Medical Center, P.C., located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, our well-respected team of board certified Obstetricians/Gynecologists understand how challenging it can be to juggle a multitude of daily tasks and responsibilities, and offer uniquely flexible scheduling options to ensure that your healthcare needs are efficiently fulfilled in a comfortable, welcoming environment.
Although you may feel tempted to put off your annual gynecological exam when you are feeling strong and healthy, doing so can put your health at risk, as these assessments are vital tools to prevent and/or detect potential health problems, and to curb any complications before they endanger your well-being.
Your annual preventive care exam is an opportunity to screen for cancer and other health issues that might otherwise be undetectable. Depending on your age, risk factors, and previous medical conditions, your annual exam will typically be comprised of some (or all) of the following procedures:
Consultation with your clinician about any health concerns or questions
- Clinical breast exam (CBE)
- Pap smear (cervical cancer screening)
- Colon cancer
- Thyroid disease
- Skin Cancer
- Cardiac health
- Bone density
Pelvic examination (to check for other types of female cancer)
Assessment of cholesterol and blood pressure
During your annual exam, your Women’s Medical Center, PC treatment provider will take the time to address your questions and concerns with informative discussions that reflect your personal values and medical history.
BREAST CANCER SCREENING
Your annual exam will also involve a discussion regarding your breast cancer screening options, taking into consideration your age and breast cancer risk factors. Breast cancer screening typically includes two key components:
Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)
Entails a physical examination of the breasts and underarms in order to discern the presence of any lumps or anatomical changes
Generally regarded as a highly advantageous test to ascertain the presence of breast cancer, mammograms employ the use of x-ray imagery to detect breast cancer in the earliest stages, when the survival rates are the highest
A clinical breast exam that is performed in conjunction with a mammogram has been shown to be more effective than a mammogram alone as a breast cancer detection tool in women over 40.
Typically regarded as the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, cervical cancer (in most cases) can be prevented or successfully treated with regular screening tests and follow-up care. The two primary cervical cancer screening tests are the Pap test and the HPV test:
- The Pap test (also referred to as the Pap smear) is performed to look for the presence of “precancers,” which are cell changes on the cervix that have the potential to develop into cervical cancer if they are not treated promptly and effectively. Your Pap smear can be performed in the comfort of your doctor’s office, and is recommended every three years for most women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old. During the Pap test, your clinician will use a plastic or metal instrument known as a speculum to widen the vaginal opening so that he/she may examine the cervix and vagina and collect a sampling of cells to send out for laboratory testing.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for causing the development of precancers that can lead to cervical cancer. If your doctor feels that HPV testing is appropriate, the cells collected during the Pap test will be tested for HPV at the laboratory. In many cases for women age 30 or older, a normal pap coupled with a negative HPV test can lengthen the screening interval to 5 years.
Our goal is to keep you healthy and well so you can continue to live a productive life. As such, it is important to remember that even if the Pap and/or HPV tests are normal, these two tests do not check for anything other than cervical cancer, and a yearly “annual” exam is still advisable to screen for the other conditions listed above.