Long ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for women. With cervical cancer, healthy cells in the cervix begin to mutate, creating a mass. This mass can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Cervical cancer is often linked to the HPV virus. In some women, the virus can live for years, developing into cancer at a later age. Women over 50 must visit a doctor for a routine Pap test every 3 years. This test helps doctors detect HPV and treat the signs of cervical cancer. Doctors advise that 3 negative tests leading up to age 65 indicate that no further tests are needed.
Be aware of breast cancer
October is a popular month. Not just for Halloween and pumpkin spice lattes, but Breast Cancer Awareness month too. About 12% of US women will develop invasive breast cancer. Furthermore, an expected 3 million women have a history of breast cancer in 2020. Women over 50 should have yearly mammograms, at least until age 55. If there is a family history of breast cancer, consider a genetic test. Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have a 50% chance of developing cancer. Most of all, don’t hesitate to perform a simple self-exam.
Screening for skin cancer
Skin cancers affect both men and women. However, the condition is the most diagnosed cancer in the country. Women over 50, in particular, are at risk. Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. What looks like a mole or blemish could be one of 3 types of skin cancers. While not common, skin cancer can be deadly. See a dermatologist once a year for a full-body exam. Make sure to note any new patches, bumps, or blemishes to tell the dermatologist about in advance.
Don’t forget lung cancer screening
For women who smoke, screening for lung cancer becomes a necessity. Lung cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in women. Heavy smokers of over 30 years or smokers who quit in the last 15 years should get screened. Doctors can check for possible cancer using a low-dose CT scan. Lung cancer screening is a delicate process that can even reveal a false positive. Follow the guidance of doctors at all times.
Check up on your colon
Colon cancer does not always get the necessary attention. However, the condition could be deadly if left untreated. After skin and lung cancer, colon cancer is mostly diagnosed in persons over 50. Colon cancer starts in the large intestine and can affect other organs if left untreated. The death rate has fallen significantly over the decades, thanks to advancements in tests and treatments. Women aged 50 and over should have a colonoscopy or similar test once every 5-10 years.
A test can save your life
Cancer of any part of the body is a deadly disease if left unchecked and untreated. Women over 50 should check for cervical, breast, colon, skin, and lung cancer. This is especially the case with a family history of these cancers. At the next primary care or OB/GYN visit, speak with the doctor about life-saving cancer screening.