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Preventative screening is an important part of anyone’s health regimen, and women have their own unique needs.  However, life tends to get in the way of keeping these important appointments.

Here’s a breakdown of the recommended screening for women that you can use as a guide. It is important to talk with your physician about your individual health screening needs.

Recommended Health Screenings For Women:

Colon cancer screening: Recommended for women age 50-75 years old or younger for women with higher risk due to family history. Colonoscopy is the gold standard or preferred method for screening, but some patients can choose a stool-based test after discussion with their provider.

Cervical cancer screening: Women age 21-65 should get Pap smears every 3 years. If you are over 30 and want to lengthen the screening interval, you can do it every five years by combining Pap with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. While you may not need a Pap smear every year, you should still have a yearly exam with your doctor.

Breast cancer screening: Women should start having mammograms either at age 40 or 50, depending on family history and personal preference. Talk with your doctor to evaluate your personal risk, as there are also new recommendations for genetic counseling and screening for women with family history of certain malignancies.

Lung cancer screening: A yearly low-dose chest CT scan is now recommended for women age 55-80 who have significant history of smoking, who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Bone density screening: You should have a bone density scan (DXA scan) starting at age 65 or younger for women with higher fracture risk. Based on your results, your doctor will recommend subsequent screening intervals.

Hepatitis C screening: If you were born between 1945 and 1965 you should have a one-time screening blood test for hepatitis C since this age group was found to have a higher number of undiagnosed patients.  At any age, patients at high risk for Hepatitis C should also have a test.  It can be done at the same time of any other bloodwork.

HIV screening: This is recommended for women age 15-65 or women at high risk for infection.

A good way to ensure you stay on top of your recommended health screenings is to schedule a yearly visit with your doctor. In addition to the screenings above, it gives your doctor the opportunity to discuss other important health topics, such as risk for cardiovascular disease, nutrition and physical activity.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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