DEAR DR. ROACH: Two years ago, at age 90, my gynecologist told me that I did not need to see him anymore because of my age. When I mentioned this to my daughter, she became outraged, and said that I need to continue my mammograms and visits to the doctor. What is your opinion? — I.W.
ANSWER: This is actually three questions in one, and none of them is easy. How long do you “need” to continue Pap smears and mammograms, and do you need to keep seeing your gynecologist?
The Pap smear question actually is the easiest, since there is very good evidence that a woman who has had normal Pap smears regularly until age 65 is very unlikely to get cervical cancer. This does not apply to anyone with a history of cancer.
When to stop mammograms is controversial. I feel that they can continue in healthy women indefinitely, but especially in the presence of some other serious disease, a woman over 75 could choose to stop.
I still recommend a regular visit with the gynecologist. Even if a mammogram or Pap smear isn’t being done, the gynecologist can discuss other concerns and do an exam.
Questions about breast cancer and its treatment are found in the booklet on that subject. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Roach — No. 1101W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address.
DEAR DR. ROACH: Americans are infatuated with grilling, barbecuing and charring meat — all forms of high-temperature cooking. Isn’t charred food carcinogenic, leading to stomach and colon cancers? — S.B.
ANSWER: Yes, charred meat is carcinogenic, at least according to the preponderance of the data. In fact, increased red meat of any kind probably increases overall cancer risk, but hightemperature cooking creates several kinds of toxic chemicals and increases colon cancer risk specifically. There is some evidence that leaner cuts of red meat aren’t as dangerous, and also that marinating, especially in wine, reduces the production of the dangerous chemicals.
I recommend limiting consumption of high-temperature cooked red meats.
Readers may e- mai l questions to ToYourGood- Health@med.cornell.edu.
©2014 North America Synd.