9 Important Screenings Every Woman Should Get
Part of maintaining a healthy body is to make sure you are keeping up to date with important health screenings. A recent study found that only 8 percent of adults over age 35 get high-priority, preventive screenings. Now more than ever, it is important to know about the steps you should take to prevent against certain health conditions.
At different times in your life, there are certain checkups essential for preventing or identifying possible health concerns. Depending on your medical history, you may need some tests sooner than recommended.
According Henry Ford preventative care specialist, Katarzyna Budzynska, M.D., here are the top screenings all women should get:
1. For Breast Cancer – Mammogram: A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast tissue. These images can be used to detect early signs of breast cancer. All women should start getting mammograms by age 50, but many start earlier around age 40. Talk with your doctor to decide how frequently you should get this exam. You may need a scan before 40 if you are at a greater risk for breast cancer.
2. For Osteoporosis – Bone Density Test: As you get older, your bones can start to weaken and become more fragile. For a bone density test, a special x-ray machine scans different parts of the body to determine the strength and thickness of your bones. Based on your results, your doctor can determine a treatment plan that is right for you. By age 65, or during menopause in high-risk cases, you should get a bone density test. Talk with doctor to determine how often you get this test.
3. For High Blood Pressure – Blood Pressure Measurement: High blood pressure can lead to many other health issues, like heart disease, if left untreated. Make sure you are getting your blood pressure levels checked every few years. If you do have high blood pressure, there are many ways to lower it.
4. For Colorectal Cancer – Colonoscopy: Colorectal cancers affect areas of the colon, rectum and anus. Checking the health of your colon can help identify any issues. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years starting at 45 for people with an average risk of colon cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The ACS recently lowered the age for beginning colonoscopies (from age 50) due to a rise of colon cancer in younger adults. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you and make sure your insurance covers this treatment before age 50.
In this procedure, the doctor uses a scope to evaluate the inside of your colon. This screening can prevent colon cancer if pre-cancerous cells are identified and removed. Here are a few ways to prep for an upcoming appointment.
5. For Diabetes – Risk Assessment Test: Diabetes occurs when the body loses its ability to break down sugar. Too much sugar can lead to many health complications. The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force recommends starting screenings for women who are overweight between ages 40-70. Other factors may contribute to this condition and affect how often you should be tested. Talk to your doctor if you have:
- A preexisting health condition (like high cholesterol)
- A history of diabetes or gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant)
- Possible signs of the condition
6. For Heart Health – Cholesterol Screening: Like blood pressure, high levels of bad cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. Make sure to have your cholesterol levels checked every five years. You can improve your cholesterol levels by eating healthy and keeping active.
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7. For Cervical Cancer – Pap Test/HPV Test: Having a sexually transmitted infection or history of smoking are just a few ways you may be more prone to cervical cancer. The best way to detect this cancer is through a pap test. During this test, cells from the cervix are examined for abnormalities. Your doctor can check this during your routine gynecology appointment and recommend how often you have this test.
8. For HIV – HIV Screening: HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight off infections or disease. Knowing if you have HIV is important to prevent spreading the virus. Your doctor can help you determine how often to be tested based on your risk level. Once you have HIV, it never goes away. Talk to your doctor about ways to manage this illness.
9. For STDs/STIs – Routine Screenings: If you are sexually active or have multiple sexual partners, it is important to be checked regularly for sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Many STDs or STIs are treatable. However, it is best to detect them quickly to prevent a case from worsening or spreading them to a partner.
Being open about symptoms or a family history of a condition can help your doctor identify health issues as soon as possible. It is important to remember that sometimes certain lifestyle habits might make you more susceptible to different medical conditions and may require additional screenings. For example, if you are a life-long smoker, you may need to talk to your doctor about a lung cancer screening.
Keeping up with your body is important. Make sure you get your annual checkups and necessary health screens. Talk with your doctor regularly about any health concerns or questions you might have.
To find a doctor or make an appointment, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Dr. Katarzyna Budzynska specializes in preventive medicine and is family medicine doctor who sees patients of all ages at Henry Ford Medical Center – Harbortown.