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Medical Tests to Detect Cancer in Women

30th November, 2023

Medical Tests to Detect Cancer in Women

Cancer is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. It can affect anyone, regardless of age and gender. However, there are certain types of cancer that affect women more than men. In this article, we will discuss some of the common types of tests that detect cancer in women.

Important medical tests for women to make sure that they are cancer free:

  1. Mammogram: A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray exam that is used to detect breast cancer in its early stages. The test involves compressing the breast between two plates to create a clear image of the breast tissue. Mammograms are often recommended for women who are above 40 and have a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to genetic factors, age, and other factors.

    Mammography is a safe process. However, women can experience some discomfort or pain during the compression process. Women should consult with their health care provider regarding how often a mammogram should be done.

  2. Pap smear: A pap smear, also known as a pap test, is a procedure to test for cervical cancer in women. It involves collecting a sample of cells from the cervix using a small brush or a spatula. These cells are then examined under a microscope to check for any abnormal changes.

  3. Pelvic exam: A pelvic exam is a physical examination of reproductive organs, including the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. During the exam, the healthcare provider uses a speculum to open the vagina and check the vagina and cervix for any signs of disease. The healthcare provider will also insert two gloved fingers into your vagina while the other hand gently presses down your lower abdomen. This part of the physical exam is conducted to check the health of your uterus and ovaries and any unusual growths.

  4. Blood test: Blood tests can provide information about a woman's overall health and can help detect certain cancers. Some of the tumour markers are:
    • Cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) for ovarian cancer
    • The CA 15-3 or CA 27.29 for breast cancer
    • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) for liver cancer
    • Carcinoembryonic antigen for lung cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer

  5. Transvaginal ultrasound: This test examines a woman's bladder, vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. An ultrasound probe connected to a computer is gently inserted inside the vaginal canal and is moved to show pictures of the inside of your pelvis onto a monitor. Your healthcare provider may recommend a transvaginal ultrasound because of different reasons such as:
    • Abnormal pelvic pain
    • Unexpected vaginal bleeding which may be related to endometrial cancer, which is cancer of the lining of the uterus
    • Check for cysts and uterine fibroids which may be related to ovarian cancer