About Other Cancer Screenings

Cervical cancer and HPV

Despite the fact that cervical cancer is both treatable and preventable, many women in the U.S. continue to die from the disease. Getting screened for cervical cancer is a crucial part of health care for anyone with a cervix.

Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. HPV can turn normal cells into abnormal cells, which can keep growing and turn into cancer if left untreated. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that starting at age 25, all women have a primary HPV test done every 5 years. Alternatively, women can undergo an HPV/Pap cotest every 5 years or a Pap test every 3 years. These tests can be performed during a regular wellness visit.

If you are a woman in Missouri looking to get screened, Show Me Healthy Women offers free cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings for those who meet age, income and insurance guidelines.

While screening is an essential component of both treating and preventing cervical cancer, there are measures you can take to further protect yourself. HPV vaccination helps protects you or your children from HPV infection (and therefore cervical cancer). According to the ACS, HPV vaccination works best when given to girls and boys between 9 and 12 years old (but it can be given up to age 26). Speak to your doctor to find out if HPV vaccination is right for you.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer is by far the most common of all cancers in both men and women in the U.S. The good news is that by monitoring your skin and having suspicious moles looked at by your dermatologist, you can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer or catch it before it’s progressed.

There are certain factors that increase your risk of developing skin cancer, including having fair skin, freckling easily, having a large number of moles or atypical moles, having had frequent sunburns, frequently being exposed to UV rays (including tanning beds) and having a family history of skin cancer.

Your dermatologist may recommend regular skin cancer screenings for you if you fall into one of these higher-risk groups. Speak with your doctor about what screening schedule is right for you.

Head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancers account for about 4 percent of all cancers in the U.S. They can form in the throat, oral cavity and nasal cavity.

While there are currently no official screening guidelines for head and neck cancer, a screening physical examination of the neck, throat and mouth is most often a part of yearly dental exams or physical exams. You can also perform self-exams by feeling your neck for lumps, as well as using a mirror and flashlight together to look inside your mouth and throat. If you notice anything concerning, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor.

Two major known risk factors for developing head and neck cancer are exposure to tobacco and heavy alcohol use. However, even if you avoid tobacco and alcohol, there is another risk factor that can dramatically increase your risk of developing head and neck cancer: oral HPV infection. The most effective way to protect yourself or your children from HPV (and therefore head and neck cancer) is by getting vaccinated. Speak to your doctor to find out if HPV vaccination is right for you.