Q. As a woman concerned about my health, I’d like to start the new year by taking really good care of myself. Can you tell me what tests and exams I should have done?
A. Having your health regularly evaluated with basic screening methods can assist you in maintaining peak health. Blood tests and annual physical exams can help you discover early signs of potential problems that in many cases can be reversed with treatment.
Blood tests should include a complete blood count, a cardiac risk profile, and a fasting comprehensive metabolic profile (which includes testing your blood glucose, liver function, and kidney function). Depending on your symptoms, thyroid blood tests may also be recommended. Other important health screening methods for women include the following:
Breast screenings and mammograms: The American Cancer Society recommends an initial breast screening (a physical exam of your breasts and armpits) at age 20, and subsequent screenings every three years until you’re 40. If you have a personal history of a breast lump or a strong family history of breast cancer, your physician may recommend more frequent screenings or mammograms. Beginning at age 40, annual screenings and mammograms are advised.
Pap tests: The ACS recommends Pap tests annually (or every two years if your physician uses liquid-based pap tests) from age 21 to age 30, and every two to three years from age 30 to age 69 if you’ve had three normal pap tests in a row. According to the ACS, if you’re 70 or older you may stop having pap tests if you’ve had three normal tests in a row and you’ve had normal pap tests in the last 10 years. More frequent pap tests are advised if you are at high risk for cervical cancer.
Bone Density Scans: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends routine scans for osteoporosis if you’re 65 or older. However, many women seek out bone density scans at younger ages to obtain baseline measurements.
Eye exams: The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you have vision screenings at least once between age 20 and age 39, every two to four years from age 40 to age 64, and every one to two years beginning at age 65.
Skin exams: The ACS recommends a complete skin exam by a dermatologist every three years from age 20 to age 40, and every year if you’re 40 or older.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com