Women's Health


You should have your breasts examined regularly by your doctor for lumps and other signs of cancer. Talk with your doctor about how often you need breast examinations and about doing breast self-exams. Tell your doctor if you notice a lump in your breast, any liquid coming from the nipple or any change in the appearance of your breast.

What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is large enough to feel or cause any symptoms.

Why should I have a mammogram?

A mammogram can find breast cancer that is too small for you or your doctor to detect.  Cancer is most easily treated and cured when it is discovered in an early stage.

How do I know if I need a mammogram?

If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.

If you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years.

Tell your doctor if your mother or sister has had breast cancer.  Depending on your family history, and other risk factors, your doctor may have you get a mammogram before age 40 or more frequently.

See the Preventive Health Guidelines for mammogram and other important health screening information.

How often should I get a mammogram?

Cancer can show up at any time, so one mammogram is not enough.  It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often to get a mammogram. 

If you find a lump, or see other changes in your breast, see your doctor right away.

How is a mammogram done?

You will stand in front of a special X-ray machine.  The technician will place your breast on a clear plastic plate.  Another plate will firmly press your breast from above.  The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is taken.  This may be uncomfortable for a few seconds, but it helps to get a clear pictures.  The steps are then repeated to make a side view of each breast.

When will I get the results of my mammogram?

Depending on the facility, you usually get the results within a few weeks.  However, some facilities have radiologists on staff that can review your mammogram and give you the results the very same day.

Where can I get a mammogram?

To find out where you can get a mammogram, ask your primary care physician or call the Member Services number on your identification card.

Why should I have a Pap test?

A Pap test can detect cancer or abnormal cervical cells before they turn into cancer.   When caught early, the chance of successful treatment is greatly increased.

Could you have cancer of the cervix and not know it?

Yes, often there are no signs or symptoms of cervical cancer.

How often should I get a Pap test?

Pap test should be done within 3 years of first sexual activity or age 21, whichever comes first.

Women 21 to 65 year of age should have a Pap test every 3 years

Women 65 years or older should speak with their provider to determine if and when to get a Pap test.  Women who have had normal Pap tests results for several years, or who have had their cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for non-cancerous conditions, may not need to have a Pap test any more.

Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may have you get a Pap test more frequently.

See Preventive Health Guidelines for Pap test and other important health screening information.

How often should I get a Pap test?

Early on, cervical cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms.  So, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how often to get a Pap test. 

If you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, see your doctor right away.

How is a Pap test done?

Your doctor can do a Pap test during a pelvic exam.  It is a simple and quick test.  You will lie down on an exam table and the doctor will insert an instrument called a speculum into your vagina.  This will help them see your cervix (lower part of your uterus).  They will then use a special stick or brush to take a few cells from the surface and inside the cervix.  The cells are placed on a glass slide or bottle of liquid and sent to a lab for testing.  The test may be mildly uncomfortable, but should not be painful.  You may also have some spotting afterwards.

When will I get the results of my Pap test?

It can take as long as four weeks to receive your Pap test results.

Where do you get a Pap test?

From a family doctor, OB/GYN, medical clinic or local health department.

What is a HPV test?

If you are 30 years or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test.  Both tests are performed at the same time.  The HPV test looks for the virus human papillomavirus – a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer in some women.