Guidelines, screening tests, pap smears, mammograms, women's healthEarly detection of breast and cervical cancer make treatment easier and increase survival rates. Mammograms and Pap smears can spot cancer before any other symptoms have developed. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for the early detection of both diseases.

Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should choose to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish. Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should begin screening at an earlier age.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening.
  • Screening should continue for women in good health, and women expected to live ten more years or longer.
  • Women should also know how their breasts usually look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
  • Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs and mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small). Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.

Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening

  • Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. 
  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a pap smear test done every three years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
  • Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a pap smear test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every five years. 
  • A woman who has had her uterus and cervix removed (a total hysterectomy) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
  • All women who received the HPV vaccination should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups.
  • Some women – because of their health history (HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc.) – may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Talk to a health care provider about your history.

For more information about these cancers and early detection screening tests, please visit the National Cancer Institute at or the American Cancer Society at

Screening Tests

Do you have questions about screening tests or other health concerns? Make an appointment today to talk to a physician about your concerns and questions. At Creekside Center for Women, you and your health are our priority.