As a doctor, I often see patients only when there’s a problem: they’ve found a lump, or they’ve had pain or discomfort.

Patient responsibilities

I know firsthand how important cancer screenings and preventive care are—and when it comes to breast and cervical cancer, early detection saves lives.

"Don’t wait until something feels wrong to take care of yourself or your loved ones."

In addition to an annual checkup every year, women should look for changes in their bodies and know if they’re at increased risk for breast or cervical cancer. Check with your provider or local Planned Parenthood health center to understand the most recent recommendations based on age, family history and other risk factors and to see if you’re due for a Pap, HPV Test, HPV vaccine, breast exam or mammogram. 

Why screen?

It’s especially important for women in specific communities to protect their health with regular screenings. Because of barriers to regular preventive care, Latinas and African American women, for example, have higher cervical cancer rates and are more likely to die of the disease. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, African American women are the most likely to die.

We’re making progress in reaching everyone with the health care and information they need to stay healthy. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s preventive health benefits, millions of women can now get annual checkups, cancer screenings and mammograms without copays or out-of-pocket expenses. As you prioritize your health, check in with the women around you as well, your mother, sisters, aunts, friends, and remind them of the importance of regular preventive care.

Don’t wait until something feels wrong to take care of yourself or your loved ones. With regular preventive care, we can all help one another be our healthiest selves—now and in years to come.