Yes, all women need to have annual exams if they want to maintain optimal health. Dr. Kong can review your health history, check for early indicators of diseases or health problems, and identify risk factors that may make you more susceptible to serious health issues during an annual exam.
Annual exams always include a pelvic exam and may include a clinical breast exam. For patients up to 40 years old, clinical breast exams are typically done every three years. After 40, Dr. Kong performs them at every annual exam.
Annual exams become even more important as you age. Every stage of a woman's life is unique in terms of what's happening inside the body, and the annual exam is the ideal time to make sure any changes in your body are normal, age-related changes.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, women ages 21-29 should get a Pap test every three years. Women 30-64 should get a Pap test and an HPV (human papillomavirus) test every five years, or continue with Pap tests only every three years.
After age 65, you may be able to stop having Pap tests based on 10 years of negative results and on Dr. Kong's recommendation.
Ultimately, how often you get tested is a decision best made in consultation with Dr. Kong after a review of your medical history, your current health, and your lifestyle. If, for example, you have a family history of certain cancers, Dr. Kong may recommend more frequent testing.
Pap tests are designed to check your cervix for abnormal cell changes. Their existence is not cause for immediate alarm. Often, the presence of these abnormal cells is caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that’s so common that almost every sexually active person will have some form of it over the course of their lives. In these cases, Dr. Kong may order follow-up Pap tests six months to a year later to see if the abnormal cells resolve themselves, which is often the case.
If follow-up tests continue to indicate the presence of abnormal cells, Dr. Kong may order more conclusive tests, such as a cervical biopsy, because persistent abnormal cells do run the risk of turning into cancerous cells. The good news is that early monitoring and intervention allows Dr. Kong to act quickly to clear up precancerous cells, allowing you to avoid a cancer diagnosis altogether.
Between routine annual exams and periodic testing, Dr. Kong ensures that your health is consistently monitored, which is critical in catching and treating problems before they become major medical issues. To take charge of your health, make an appointment with the online tool or call Dr. Kong anytime.
Dr. Kong accepts most PPO insurance providers. Please reach out to the office if you do not see your insurance provider listed here!