Cancer Screening

When should you start checking for breast cancer?

If you find anything unusual, see your doctor immediately and insist on a diagnosis. In general, women should have a yearly clinical breast examination by a doctor beginning at age 20 and start having annual mammograms beginning at age 45.

What are the early signs of breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  • Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
  • Breast or nipple pain.
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward)
  • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

How would I feel if I had breast cancer?

Breast cancer symptoms vary widely — from lumps to swelling to skin changes — and many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all. In other cases, however, the first sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel.

What are the early signs of cervical cancer?

  • Blood spots or light bleeding between or following periods.
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer and heavier than usual.
  • Bleeding after intercourse, douching, or a pelvic examination.
  • Increased vaginal discharge.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding after menopause.
  • Unexplained, persistent pelvic and/or back pain.

How is cervix cancer caused?

Cervical cancer begins with abnormal changes in the cervical tissue. The risk of developing these abnormal changes is associated with infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). In addition, early sexual contact, multiple sexual partners, and taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) increase the risk of cervical cancer because they lead to greater exposure to HPV.

Can you get cervical cancer without being sexually active?

Women who have never been sexually active rarely develop cervical cancer. Becoming sexually active at a young age can increase the risk for cervical cancer. But a woman can have HPV even when she has had only one sexual partner.

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