Exams & Testing
Both the American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the American Cancer Society recommend an annual gynecological exam for women. This examination assures more than reproductive health. Heart, lungs, and breast are examined and visual inspection of the genital area screens for possible STI exposure or other infection. As of November 2009, the American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics issued new guidelines for cervical cancer screening. The recommendation is to begin including a pap smear during the annual exam at age 21, screening every two years between ages 21-29. The pap smear provides an effective screening tool for pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix.
If you are sexually active, it is especially important to check yourself for any signs of STIs (sexually transmissable infections). Redness, itching, sores or bumps (in the vaginal, anal, or mouth area) could indicate STI exposure and you should see a healthcare provider immediately.
A monthly breast self exam is recommended. While some argue that young women (aged 18-21) need not check their breasts monthly, we recommend this monthly exam in order for you to be familiar with your breast shape and feel. In the case of future abnormalities, you will be more likely to determine lumps or bumps that weren't present the month before. Early intervention is the key to breast health. If you notice anything unusual during the monthly breast self exam, a healthcare provider should be consulted.
Men over 18 years of age should be checking their genitals once a month in order to catch any irregularities that could be early signs of cancer of the testicles or sexually transmissible infection or disease. If you feel a hardness or lump, notice swelling of the scrotum, or sores or bumps on the genitals, or have discharge or redness or pain, you should see a health care provider immediately.
Find more detailed information about testicular exams and cancer at The American Cancer Society
If you are sexually active, it is especially important to pay attention to redness, itching, sores or bumps (on the penis, scrotum, upper thighs, anal or oral area). This could indicate STI exposure or other infection and you should see a healthcare provider immediately.