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M. D. Anderson redefines screening guidelines for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers

creening recommendations for those at increased risk for breast cancer; four categories of age-based risk recommendations for cervical cancer; and for colorectal cancer, there are three categories defining those at increased risk and three categories defining those at high risk.

The new guidelines build on established cancer screening practices and now more specifically offer the following recommendations:

Breast Cancer

Starting at age 20, women at all risk levels should practice breast self-awareness by being familiar with how their breasts look and feel and immediately reporting any changes to their doctor. Women aged 40 years and older at average risk should get annual mammograms and breast exams.

For women at increased risk, the type and frequency of exams - including clinical breast exams, mammograms and breast MRI - depend on factors putting them at increased risk, including:

  • history of radiation treatment to the chest;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • diagnosis of lobular carcinoma in situ;
  • Gail Model score of greater than 1.7 percent;
  • or family history.

Cervical Cancer

For women at average risk, it is now recommended that women under age 21 get a liquid-based Pap test within three years of initiating vaginal intercourse. She should continue to have Pap tests annually until she has had three consecutive negative test results. After that, M. D. Anderson recommends screening every two years unless she is at increased risk of cervical cancer based on risk factors, including:

  • history of cervical cancer or severe cervical dysplasia;
  • persistently testing positive for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV);
  • exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) before birth;
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection;
  • or an immune system that does not function properly.

Beginning at age 30, adding HPV testing is a preferred option to the Pap

Contact: Robyn Stein
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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