Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you need a routine annual exam or help with a specific medical condition, our physicians are experts in all areas of gynecology and women's care. During routine annual exams, our physicians perform Pap tests, clinical breast exams and answer any questions you may have about your body. They also can provide guidance about birth control options, if necessary. In addition to routine gynecology exams, our physicians offer a range of treatment options. Some common gynecologic questions about important screenings are listed below.
Breast Cancer Screening
What is a mammogram?
- A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast used to screen for breast cancer
When should I get a mammogram?
- Most women should start getting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. However, depending on patient history and other factors, there may be times when deviations from guidelines are recommended
What happens if my mammogram is abnormal?
- If there is an abnormality detected on your mammogram you may be asked to come back for another specialized mammogram (called a diagnostic mammogram) or to receive a breast biopsy
Cervical Cancer Screening
What is a Pap smear?
- A Pap smear is a swab of the cervix that screens for cervical cancer but is not used for a diagnosis of pre-cancer or cancer
What is HPV?
- HPV is the human papilloma virus, which is though to be responsible for the majority of cases of cervical cancer
If you are age 26 or younger, talk to your doctor about the HPV vaccine
When should I get my Pap smear?**
- Routine screenings should begin at age 21
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a pap smear every 3 years
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a pap smear combined with HPV testing every 5 years
- For most women, screening with Pap smears is not necessary after the age of 65
** Depending on patient history and other factors, there may be times when deviations from guidelines are recommended
What happens if my Pap smear result is abnormal?
- If a Pap smear result returns with abnormalities, a biopsy of the cervix may be needed. However, not all abnormal Pap smears will require a biopsy
Colon Cancer Screening
How do you screen for colon cancer?
- The most common method used to screen for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which is an examination of the large intestine (colon) and portion of the small intestine with a camera on the end of a thin flexible tube
- You will be referred to a gastroenterologist to schedule this test
When should I get screened?
- Most women should start screening at age 50. However, depending on personal or family history, it may be recommended you start earlier
How often will I need a colonoscopy?
- Women with normal findings on their colonoscopy will generally need one every 10 years
- If there are polyps or other findings during your exam, you may need them more frequently
What is osteoporosis?
- Osteoporosis is caused by a decrease in bone mass. This often occurs in women after menopause due to a decrease in estrogen
- Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures
How do we screen for osteoporosis?
- Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is used to evaluate bone mineral density
- A DEXA scan can diagnose osteoporosis and help identify those at risk of developing osteoporosis
When should I get screened?
- Most women should start screening at age 65. However, depending on personal or family history, it may be recommended that you start earlier
What happens if I have osteoporosis?
- There are several treatment options now available for osteoporosis. Your provider will help you select one that is best for you
How do I prevent osteoporosis?
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Weight bearing exercises (like walking)
- Calcium and vitamin D supplementation (either through diet or vitamins)
- Smoking cessation
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