Prevention of many health conditions significantly depends on diagnosis; an early diagnosis facilitates early treatment which is more effective, especially for conditions like cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis which get worse with time, if not treated.
Early screening can help to spot illnesses even before the symptoms begin to manifest. However, the screening tests you need depend on your age, your health history, your family medical history and other risk factors. Here are the necessary tests for every woman depending on age.
For Women in their 20s and 30s
Women in their 20s should have two physical exams which involve a careful head-to-neck assessment and checking your height, weight and body mass index (BMI). During a physical exam, your doctor can also ask questions about your diet and exercise, depression, vaccination history, alcohol and drug abuse and smoking, and other information that is necessary.
In your 20s and 30s, it can be recommended that a woman have a breast exam as part of her regular check-up every 1-3 years. However, if you have had a close family member with breast cancer, then you may be required to have more frequent breast exams as you may be at a higher risk of getting the cancer compared to a person who does not have a family history with breast cancer.
- Pelvic exam and Pap Smear
From the age of 21 to 65 years, a woman should have a pap smear every 3 years unless they are at a higher risk. At 30 years or older, it is recommended that a woman have a cervical exam every 5 years if it is in combination with HPV screening. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is part of a group of over 100 types out of which types 16 and 18 lead to approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases.
Every woman should have their blood pressure checked at least once every year. If the systolic number (top number) is between 120 to 139 mmHg and the diastolic number (bottom number) is between 80 to 89 mmHg, then you should have your blood pressure checked every year. However, if the systolic number is greater than 140mmHg and the diastolic number greater than 90, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
A woman with a blood pressure of 140/80 mmHg or above may be required to get a blood sugar screening. Apart from high blood pressure, a BMI that is above 25 is another factor that can increase the risk for diabetes because it means that the person is overweight. Other factors include a close relative with diabetes and a history of heart disease.
Every 5 years, women should have their cholesterol levels checked and the frequency can increase due to changes in lifestyle that lead to weight gain and diet change. Women with kidney problems, heart disease or other health conditions may need to be monitored more closely.
Every person, not just women, needs to have a dental exam once or twice every year. Your dentist can then recommend more frequent visits if necessary.
People who have vision problems need to have an eye exam every two years, but for those with diabetes, at least one eye exam every year is recommended. Your eye specialist can also recommend more frequent exams if necessary, for you.
This exam is especially important for women who are at a high risk of skin cancer. Factors that can determine your risk of skin cancer include your immune system, and family history of skin cancer.
It is recommended you have a flu shot every year. You should also find out from your healthcare provider whether you need a pneumonia vaccine. If you did not have the Tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tap) as an adolescent, you should get a boost every 10 years.
For Women in their 40 to 64 years
All the above screenings are also required for women in this age bracket with additions such as:
- Colorectal cancer screening
A family history of colon cancer or polyps and a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps can determine if you need to be screened for colon cancer. Screening tests available include flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, double contrast barium enamel every 5 years, a stool DNA test every 3 years and a Fecal immunochemical test every year.
This is necessary for women over 50 years who have had a bone density test (DEXA) scan. Women below 65 years who are at a high risk of osteoporosis should also be screened for the disease.
This is recommended for women between 55 to 80 years who smoked for over 30 years, who currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years.As a person grows older, their risk of developing certain health conditions increases hence the need to have more screenings such as the ones explained above.
Screening is crucial because by getting tested, existing conditions can be detected early and effectively treated, and for conditions like cancer, preventive measures can be taken such as in the case of cervical cancer, where if you are found to have abnormal cells, they can be detected and removed before they develop into cancer.
At International Medical Treatment Ltd (IMT) we understand just how important health screenings are. Our partner hospitals offer comprehensive health screening packages that are designed to suit patients depending on their age and their specific health issues.
Contact IMT today to find out more or to book your health check-up at one of our partner hospitals and be more aware of your health.