Preventative health screenings are important but there is conflicting information about who needs them, when the right time is to get screened and how often certain tests should be done. May is National Women’s Health Month so it’s time to set the record straight and take health matters into your own hands.
Preventative health screenings are crucial but often confusing for female patients as there are many different guidelines that suggest different things. Many of these practice recommendations are based on large population statistics as well as monetary savings; none of which take into unique individual patients needs or risk. Routine tests are our best defense for early diagnosis of disease and in-turn higher successful treatment rates if something is detected. Women need to make their health a priority and National Women’s Health month is a great time to do that.”
Top 5 tests you should consider getting:
1. Heart disease is the number one killer of women throughout the world, six-times more likely to cause death than breast cancer. Based on these statistics, women over the age of 50 should have an electrocardiogram (EKG) yearly.
2. Skin cancer screenings must be conducted every year no matter what your age. The American Cancer Society anticipates Arizona will have 1,650 new cases of melanoma in 2012.
3. Pap smears should be done annually between the ages of 21 and 30 and then every 3 years in patients older than 30, providing they are in a monogamous relationship and have a history of normal pap smears.
4. Starting at age 40, mammograms need to be performed every other year and annually after age 50. To add increased detection of breast cancer, consider getting a BT test, which is a new blood test to detect the presence of inflammation markets which signal the possibility f breast cancer cells being present in the body.
5. A colonoscopy should be performed at age 50 to screen for colon cancer. After a baseline is established, follow up tests should be done every 5-10 years.
You can never be too careful when it comes to your health. Just this year I discovered a melanoma on a patient’s stomach during a routine skin cancer exam. She had been told by another physician that it was nothing to worry about. Trust your instincts….women know their bodies better than anyone else.