Part 1 – For Women
Whether it’s because of simple neglectfulness or struggles with and complexities of the healthcare system, millions of patients across the US are not up-to-date with the recommended preventive tests and screenings. Are you among these millions?
If yes, read on to find out why you should not skip on some medical tests that are critical for your age group.
• Pap smears are recommended every three years for women between the ages of 21 and 65. A Pap smear screens for cervical cancer. Beginning at age 30, women can get a combination Pap and HPV (human papillomavirus) test to rule out both cervical cancer and genital warts, respectively. A negative result for both means you can get your next screening after five years.
• Blood pressure screening should be done at least once every two to five years. The length in between tests will vary depending on your current health condition.
• Dental exams should be done once or twice a year, according to the American Dental Health Association. Aside from maintaining oral health through regular cleaning and dental checks for oral health problems, such as plaque and gum disease, a dental exam can also help determine your risks for osteoporosis and other bone conditions.
• HIV tests are recommended at least once in a patient’s lifetime, beginning at age 15. If you haven’t been tested yet, you should get it done and over with soon. Women who are planning to get pregnant and pregnant women should also be tested.
• Mammograms are recommended once a year for women between 45 and 54 years old. Women in their early forties can also opt to get the test, should they feel the need to. But depending your risk for breast cancer, you may need to start getting regular mammograms as early as 30 years old.
• Eye exams can become a semi-regular part of your healthcare depending on the result of your baseline eye exam which you should get as soon as you hit 40, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. As early as this age, you can show signs of certain eye conditions and catching them as soon as possible will improve your preventive and treatment options.
• Blood glucose tests are recommended by the American Diabetes Association for everyone at least every three years starting at age 45 to assess risks for pre-diabetes and diabetes.
• Colorectal cancer screening is recommended between the ages of 45 and 50, and repeat screenings will b e determined by the results of your first test. According to the American Cancer Society, the incidence of this particular cancer has started to occur among younger age groups in recent years.
• Lung cancer screening is recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for adults who have a 30 pack-year smoking history or have quit within the last 15 years, starting at age 55. One pack-year is equivalent to one cigarette pack a day for a year. “A 30 pack-year history, then, is a pack a day for 30 years; two packs a day for 15 years; or three packs a day for 10 years.”
• Bone measurement tests help evaluate your risk for osteoporosis, and is recommended by the USPSTF for all women starting at age 65. You may need to get screened earlier if you have a higher risk for the condition.
The recommended ages for most of these critical tests are for women who are generally healthy and have not yet experienced any symptoms that may suggest they’re at a higher risk for certain conditions. If you know that you have a high risk for any diseases, because of your family history, a previous health condition, or your lifestyle, among others, you may need to get the appropriate screenings at an earlier age and more frequently.
Be more proactive when it comes to your health. Schedule the necessary tests with a primary healthcare provider near you as soon as possible.