This past weekend I walked with several co-workers from Moreland OB/Gyn in the Prohealth Lakewalk for Cancer in Oconomowoc. It was a beautiful and inspirational day – seeing hundreds of people walking in support of survivors and in memory of those lost to cancer.
And while it is always an honorable gesture to walk, donate and support this cause, perhaps the best way to honor the cause is to participate in various cancer screening opportunities. Not only is it a great way to keep yourself healthy, but it provides a good example to those around us.
Pap Smears – Cervical Cancer Screening
A pap smear is a swab of the cervix that screens for cervical cancer changes. These changes are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). Women should have their first pap smear completed at age 21. If pap smears are normal, they are collected every 2 years during a woman’s 20’s and every 3-5 years after the age of 30. 12 years ago, the FDA approved a vaccine against several strains of HPV, Gardasil. While this has led to fewer HPV infections and abnormal pap smears, it does not take the place of pap smear screening. If you did not receive the HPV vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether you are a candidate.
Because pap smears are not collected annually any more, it can be really easy to lose track of when your last pap smear was done. The best way to ensure that your pap smear is up to date is to see a gynecologist every year – let us keep track of your pap smears and let you know when it is due.
Mammograms – Breast Cancer Screening
A mammogram is imaging of the breasts to detect signs of breast cancer. It is recommended that routine breast cancer screening start annually at age 40. It is especially important to discuss your medical history, particularly your family history, with your doctor, as this may change the recommendation for when you start mammogram screening. While October is officially Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the month of May has become the other “unofficial” Breast Cancer Awareness Month due to Mother’s Day. So twice a year we are inundated with reminders to get our mammograms – in the form of TV commercials, pink baseball bats at Miller Park and cancer walks. I often times will suggest that women pick one of these months or the month of their birthday to schedule their mammograms – hopefully making it easier to remember when the next mammogram is due.
Colonoscopy – Colon Cancer Screening
A colonoscopy is a procedure that screens for precancerous and cancerous changes within the colon. It is performed by a gastroenterologist. The recommendation is that your first colonoscopy is done at age 50. Again it is important to discuss your medical history and family history with your doctor, to determine if screening should be performed before age 50. Follow-up is determined by what is found on colonoscopy – follow-up can be anywhere from a few years to 10 years.
So where are you with your screening? All up to date? Good for you, keep it up!! A little behind? Don’t worry – it only takes one visit to get back on track. If you need to get screenings scheduled or have any questions regarding your screening, give your doctor a call. Need a doctor? Call us at Moreland OB/Gyn – we’d be happy to help!!
Until next time, be well!
Dr. Allison Nelson
Allison NelsonI’m a lifelong Wisconsinite and I’m so excited to be joining The Lake Country Mom!! I live in Delafield with my husband and my two kids. We are currently smack dab in the toddler years in my house, which means I have just started exploring family friendly activities, events and restaurants. I’m honored to be joining a team that helps bring these experiences to Lake Country families!! When I’m not wrangling my two little ones, I work as an OB/Gyn for Moreland OB/Gyn in Waukesha and Hartland. I love serving women in the community I live in. I started and run a Facebook group called Moreland Moms (feel free to join us!). It is an interactive group of 650+ local moms, helping and supporting each other through life’s greatest (and at times, most stressful) journey. In my free time, I love exploring local shops and restaurants. I love a good cup of coffee, a well arranged cheeseboard, a glass of red or a local microbrew. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences in Lake Country with everyone! // Follow along on Instagram // Follow the Moreland OBGYN website + blog