Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"At what age should I start having ovarian cancer evaluations?"
Does every woman have them or only those with abnormal PAPs?
Cancer screening -- or the process by which doctors look for cancer in otherwise healthy people without any symptoms -- is a difficult process. There are some debates about what is appropriate, helpful and cost effective. That being said, most experts believe that there is no role for a specific test in ovarian cancer screening. Screening for ovarian cancer is not recommend with any testing. This means if you have no symptoms, there is no need to do any specific test for this. The one thing that is recommend is annual gynecologic exams with your primary care provider or doctor. This should be for all women after the age of 18. PAP smears are done as screening for CERVICAL, not ovarian cancer. These are recommended for all women starting at 18 or after the initiation of sexual intercourse. Cervical cancer and ovarian cancer are not related, and your PAP smear status has no effect on ovarian cancer. Keep in mind, this is screening. If you have complaints that are making you worried regarding ovarian cancer -- or if you have a strong family history -- there are some tests that can be done. Most commonly, an ultrasound of the pelvis is a good test to look at the ovaries. Talk to your doctor for more information.
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