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Women health: get the screenings you need

Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. Regular visits to your doctor may seem like a chore, but for women, certain screenings and tests may add years to their life.

Breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women aged 45 to 54. If you prefer, you may begin yearly mammograms at age 40. Women who are 55 and older should have mammograms every two years if prior screenings have been normal or may continue yearly screenings.

Cervical cancer. Starting at age 21, get a Pap smear every three years until you are 65 years old. Women 30 years of age or older may choose to switch to a combination Pap smear and human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years until the age of 65. If you are older than 65 or have had a hysterectomy, talk with your doctor about whether you still need to be screened.

Colon cancer. Between the ages of 50 and 75, get a screening test for colorectal cancer. Several tests – for example, a stool test or a colonoscopy – can detect this cancer. If you are between the ages of 76 and 85, talk with your doctor about whether you should continue to be screened.

Diabetes. Get screened for diabetes (high blood sugar) if you have high blood pressure or if you take medication for high blood pressure.

High blood cholesterol. Have your blood cholesterol checked regularly with a blood test if you use tobacco; you are overweight or obese; you have a personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries.

High blood pressure. Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.

Lung cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer if you are between the ages of 55 and 80, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years (your pack-year history is the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day times the number of years you have smoked).

Osteoporosis. Have a screening test at age 65 to make sure your bones are strong. The most common test is a DEXA scan. If you are younger than 65 and at high risk for bone fractures, you should also be screened.

Skin cancer check. Changes in moles or the appearance of new growths may be signs of skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you get a full body screening once per year.

Eye Exam. You should get an eye exam at least once in your 20s; twice after 30s; every year or two if you’re 65 or older.

Dental Exam. Visiting the dentist every six months reduces your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Not only do routine dental visits keep your teeth looking their best, but keeping your gums healthy also helps protect you from other health issues.

Get the screenings you need: stay healthy at any age.

Article submitted by the HPA Group