Cancer Can't Wait: Screenings for Women

Don't delay possibly life-saving screenings

A Veteran talking to her doctor about cancer screeningsWhen the COVID-19 pandemic started, many elective procedures were delayed, like cancer screenings. If your breast cancer and cervical cancer screening schedule was disrupted for any reason, talk to your health care provider about getting back on schedule. They'll review your personal and family history, other risk factors, and the timing of your last screening test.

Getting your mammogram

Early in the pandemic, breast cancer diagnoses dropped by almost 52 percent.  Breast cancer is already the second leading cause of cancer death in women. If you skipped your annual mammogram, it's time to make an appointment. VA recommends the following schedule for screenings:

  • At age 40: Talk with your doctor about the right time to begin screening

  • By age 45: Begin yearly mammograms

  • At age 55: Get screened every other year, or continue annually depending on your preference and risk factors

Checking for cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is one of the most treatable and preventable cancers if found early. Do you know if it's time to schedule a pap smear? Here's the recommended schedule:

  • Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should get a pap test every three years.

  • For women between the ages of 30 and 65, it's recommended every three or five years.

My HealtheVet and your screenings

These screenings won't prevent cancer. But finding it early may save your life. Your mammogram results can be viewed in your Blue Button report under 'radiology.' Pap test results are also in your Blue Button report under 'labs and tests.' Veterans with a Premium account can view their doctor's notes. Talk to your doctor using Secure Messaging (sign in required) when you're ready to set up an appointment for either of these tests.

Remember: You can text the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-855-VA-WOMEN or chat online via real-time messaging.

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