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So What Is a Routine Annual Exam And How Often Should I Get It?

There has been a lot of buzz in recent months about how often a woman should get their Paps.  Just to refresh everyone's memory, a Pap smear is a screen for cervical cancer and THAT IS IT!  It does not screen for breast cancer, uterine cancer or ovarian cancer.  It also does not screen for STD's or other gynecological issues.

There is a common misconception among women that if you don't need a Pap, you can skip the annual exam altogether.  This is where I think a lot of the news media that have been reporting this topic has done a poor job.  In most of the media I've read or seen, they don't emphasize that a woman's annual exam is more than just a Pap.

The annual exam typically includes a breast exam, pelvic exam, and other health maintenance issues.  A woman's uterus and ovaries can have tumors that grow on them.  The only way to assess this is through a pelvic exam and/or ultrasounds.  The breast exam can reveal masses and hopefully diagnose cancers at a earlier stage to improve survival.   Also annual STD screening are done for high risk population and behaviors.  There are also other hormonal issues that can effect women through their reproductive life.  Many of these symptoms can be made better with different therapies ranging from herbal to medical.

These are just some of the things that your doctor will cover in an ANNUAL EXAM.  So as you see, its really more than just a Pap smear.

So do yourself a favor and see your gynecologists yearly  to maintain your health.


Dr. Benjamin Chen (docbchen)

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Dr. Benjamin Chen

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