Screening for Female Cancer

CANCER OF THE CERVIX (NECK OF THE WOMB)
Women are at increased risk of cervical cancer if they had sexual intercourse at an early age, have multiple sexual partners, had sexually transmitted infections, used oral contraceptive pills long term, smokes cigarettes, low immunity and HIV infections.
Sexually active women should have screening from age 25 using the PAP smear at least once every 3 years. Annual screening would have a higher detection rate as compared to every 3 years. There is no need to screen after age 69 if previous smears have been negative. There are 2 forms of PAP smears presently available. The conventional dry smear and the liquid based cytology. The latter has higher detection for cervical cancer although at a higher cost. Another screening test is HPV DNA testing and has recently been approved by the FDA.
 
CANCER OF THE UTERINE ENDOMETRIUM (INNER LINING OF THE WOMB)
Women who at risk include those have infertility, never been pregnant, overweight, diabetes, high blood pressure, late menopause, treatment with Tamoxifen and unopposed oestrogens.
At present there is no effective means of screening. Women who have abnormal bleeding should see their doctors early for and consider hysteroscopy / endometrial biopsy for evaluation.
 
CANCER OF THE OVARY
Women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer would be at increased risk.
There is at present no effective screening for women at average risk. They would be advised to see their doctors if they feel bloated or pain in the abdomen, indigestion, frequent urination, back pain, loss of weight and appetite. Those with increased risk may consider a transvaginal ultrasound scan and CA 125 serum testing.