Important Health Screenings at Every Age for Women

It’s been said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, which often feels accurate if you spend more than five minutes with someone of the opposite sex. That said, our medical concerns can also vary greatly, making personalized care and an established relationship with a primary care physician that much more important.

David Candelario, D.O., a family medicine physician on the medical staffs at Texas Health Plano and Trinity Marsh Medical Clinic, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice, says patients should set health goals with their physicians to keep themselves on track.

“I recommend a yearly visit with a primary care physician to plan your health maintenance/goals for the next year,” he says. “Depending on your current health, your PCP can address any immediate concerns and help address health improvements and strategies to achieve those goals over the next year.  At this time, various recommended screening procedures/tests can also be addressed. As with anything, if a disease can be detected early, there is a better chance of dealing with it successfully.”

We’ve put together recommendations for necessary health screenings during every phase of a woman’s life from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

20s & 30s

The basics: height, weight and body mass index should be checked annually.

The “extras”: talk to your doctor about issues with depression and/or other mental illnesses, tobacco cessation, alcohol and/or drug abuse, domestic violence/partner abuse, diet, exercise or any other concerns.

Blood pressure: the CDC recommends every year to two years, while the NIH allows for testing less frequently (3-5 years) for everyone; BP should be checked annually if the top (systolic) number is higher than 120 and/or the lower (diastolic) number is higher than 80 or you have other risk factors (heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, etc.).

Breast exam and/or mammogram: women should have a clinical breast exam at their annual visit to the gynecologist; if you are at high risk for breast cancer (close family history), talk to your doctor about additional screening and/or early mammograms, ultrasound or MRI; contact your physician ASAP if you notice any breast changes.

Cholesterol screening: every five years starting between the ages of 20 and 45 (talk to your doctor about when you should start); retest if lifestyle changes occur such as weight gain or a change in diet; more frequent testing may be necessary if you have risk factors or have heart disease, diabetes or kidney problems.

Colorectal cancer screening: talk to your doctor about whether screening is necessary if you have a history of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease or a close family history of polyps and/or colorectal cancer.

Diabetes screening: should be checked if your blood pressure is above 135/80 mm Hg and/or if your body mass index is over 25 (or a BMI of 23+ for Asian Americans).

Dental exam: one to two times a year for checkups, X-rays and cleaning for everyone.

Eye exam: annually if you have diabetes or every two years if you have vision problems.

Immunizations: annual flu vaccine for everyone; if you are 26 years old or younger, you should receive the human papillomavirus vaccine (either all three shots or enough shots to complete the series); ask your provider if you need other immunizations such a tetanus-diphtheria booster (every 10 years) or any other childhood vaccines you may have missed (chickenpox, measles/mumps/rubella).

Infectious disease screening: talk to your doctor about whether you should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and others, and how often depending on your level of risk.

Pelvic exam and cervical cancer screening: women over the age of 21 should have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every three years; women over the age of 30 should have a Pap smear and HPV test every five years (if previous tests were normal).

Skin cancer screening: women at high risk for skin cancer (previous skin cancer, close family history or a weakened immune system) or who notice any changes should be checked for abnormalities.

 

40s, 50s & mid-60s

The basics: height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure should be checked annually.

The “extras”: talk to your doctor about issues with depression and/or other mental illnesses, tobacco cessation, alcohol and/or drug abuse, domestic violence/partner abuse, diet, exercise or any other concerns.

Blood pressure: annually for everyone, or more often if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors (heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, etc.).

Breast exam and/or mammogram: women should have a clinical breast exam at their annual visit to the gynecologist and a mammogram every year to two years; if you are at high risk for breast cancer (close family history), you may need earlier and/or more frequent screening; contact your physician ASAP if you notice any breast changes.

Cholesterol screening: every five years for everyone, or more often if you have high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, etc.

Colorectal cancer screening: all women should be screened regularly between the ages of 50 and 75, with the frequency depending on the type of screening (colonoscopies may be done every 10 years, while other tests may need to be done more often).

Dental exam: one to two times a year for checkups, X-rays and cleaning for everyone.

Diabetes screening: every three years for women ages 45+, or more often if you are overweight and/or have a high BMI.

Eye exam: every two to four years for ages 40-54, or every year to three years for ages 55 to 64; you may need more frequent screening if you have vision problems or diabetes, or are at risk for glaucoma.

Hepatitis C virus: adults born between 1945 and 1965 should be screened for HCV.

Immunizations: annual flu vaccine for everyone, as well as a one-time shingles vaccine for women over 60; ask your physician about whether you need a pneumonia vaccine or tetanus-diphtheria booster (needed every 10 years).

Lung cancer: women ages 55-80 with a 30 pack/year smoking history and who either currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years should be screened with low-dose computed tomography.

Osteoporosis screening: women over age 50 with fractures should have a bone density scan, while those under age 65 with risk factors should be screened for osteoporosis.

Pelvic exam and cervical cancer screening: everyone should have a Pap smear every three years or a Pap smear and HPV test every five years (if previous tests were normal); if you have had a total hysterectomy, you no longer need Pap smears.

Skin cancer screening: women at high risk for skin cancer (previous skin cancer, close family history or a weakened immune system) or who notice any changes should be checked for abnormalities.

 

65 & up

The basics: height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure should be checked annually.

The “extras”: talk to your doctor about issues with depression and/or other mental illnesses, tobacco cessation, alcohol and/or drug abuse, domestic violence/partner abuse, diet, exercise or any other concerns.

Blood pressure: annually for everyone, or more often if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors (heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, etc.).

Breast exam and/or mammogram: women should have a clinical breast exam at their annual visit to the gynecologist and a mammogram every year to two years; if you are at high risk for breast cancer (close family history), you may need earlier and/or more frequent screening; contact your physician ASAP if you notice any breast changes.

Cholesterol screening: every five years for everyone, or more often if you have high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, etc.

Colorectal cancer screening: all women should be screened regularly until age 75, with the frequency depending on the type of screening (colonoscopies may be done every 10 years, while other tests may need to be done more often).

Dental exam: one to two times a year for checkups, X-rays and cleaning for everyone.

Diabetes screening: every three years for women ages 65+, or more often if you are overweight and/or have a high BMI.

Eye exam: every year to two years or annually if you have diabetes.

Hearing test: ask to have your hearing tested if you have symptoms of hearing loss.

Hepatitis C virus: adults born between 1945 and 1965 should be screened for HCV.

Immunizations: annual flu vaccine for everyone, one-time shingles vaccine for women over 60, and a pneumococcal vaccine for those over 65 and every five years after that.

Lung cancer: women up to age 80 with a 30 pack/year smoking history and who either currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years should be screened with low-dose computed tomography.

Osteoporosis screening: women over age 65 should have a bone density test.

Pelvic exam and cervical cancer screening: women over the age of 65 can stop having Pap smears if they have had three negative tests in the previous decade and have never been diagnosed with precancer or cervical cancer.

Skin cancer screening: women at high risk for skin cancer (previous skin cancer, close family history or a weakened immune system) or who notice any changes should be checked for abnormalities.

 

Staying on top of your health is not only important to you, it’s also important to us. If you are looking for a doctor, Texas Health Resources offers an easy-to-use tool. Simply choose the specialty, type in your zip code and select a range. Once a list of physicians appears, you can click on a physician and access contact information, education background and a list of insurance plans the doctor accepts.

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