The truth is, too many people get too many cancer tests, which can lead to overtreatment and dangerous radiation exposure. Here’s what I recommend:
PAP smears until the age of 50. At that point, if you have had two normal ones in a row and have been having sex with only one partner in a monogamous relationship, you can stop.
Mammograms every two years for 10 years between 45 and 60. Remember, radiation stays in your body, so mammograms can cause cancer. If you have negative ones, stop the radiation. Keep self-examining your breasts.
Chest X-ray for smokers only every 10 years.
Colonoscopy for people with a family history and bad diets. Change the diet, and keep in mind a colonoscopy may cause perforation, miss the cancer, and cause more problems than you had going in. Just because you are told to do it doesn’t mean you need to.
There is no need for annual physicals — they don’t tell you anything. Learn to pay attention to your body and ask for help from a doctor who knows and actually cares about you.
I would never recommend BRCA screening (for breast cancer) because the truth is, less than 8 percent of positives get cancer, and it only serves to scare people.
It’s an individual decision: Don’t do it because a movie star did it or because your doctor is pressuring you into it.
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