Pap Smear: If your annual Pap tests have consistently come back normal, you can wait three years between tests, say new cervical-cancer-screening guidelines recently released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Colonoscopy: Get the all clear on this colorectal-cancer test at 50, and the American Cancer Society says you can wait 10 years before you need a follow-up (and another 10 if your test at 60 goes well). “Since the procedure carries slight risks for bowel perforation, you shouldn’t get them more often than you need them,” says James Goodwin, MD, a gerontologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. However, if your doctor finds polyps, you’ll need to get tested every three to five years, depending on the size and prevalence of the growths.
Pelvic Exam: While gynecologists routinely perform these, “no U.S. guidelines recommend pelvic exams as a screening tool for cancer or other conditions, since there is no evidence that asymptomatic women benefit from this procedure,” says Analía R. Stormo, a research fellow with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If you feel fine, ask your doctor whether you really need a pelvic.”
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