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Testing, Testing

Testing, Testing

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20s/30s Due to higher risk of breast cancer, lesbians should have a clinical breast exam every three years and conduct regular self-exams at home.

Nonmonogamous gay and bisexual men should have a full STD screening every three months. Don't worry about the painful Q-tip in the penis. It's all pee-in-a-cup now.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to anal, rectal, lip, throat, and esophageal cancers, so get tested (men should request the anal Pap smear test). And people of all ages should get the Gardasil vaccination.
Women should start getting a vaginal Pap test within three years of becoming sexually active, or by age 21, and then every two years. This test can help find abnormalities in the cervix before cervical cancer develops. HIV-positive women should be screened more often.

40s/50s All women over 40 should have an annual mammogram. High-risk individuals -- those with family history of breast cancer -- should consider MRI screenings as well.

Men and women with a family history of colon cancer should be tested for precancerous polyps starting at age 50 -- or, alternatively, 10 years younger than the age at which a family member was diagnosed. Repeat every five years, or every three years if polyps are found. Go for the standard colonoscopy -- it's both diagnostic and therapeutic.

African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should start prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests at age 45; all others should start at age 50.

All ages Get the hepatitis vaccinations -- there is a series of three shots. There's no reason in this day and age that anyone should get hep A or B.
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Gary R. Cohan, MD