Screening Tests for Women
Women have known multitaskers and they manage home & work effortlessly. Amidst all the responsibilities of home, kids and work, they often tend to neglect their own health. Women have to become proactive about their own needs and focus on their medical & healthcare needs. Below is a list of few important screening tests every woman should take keeping in mind her age, family history, own health history and her other risk factors.
Breast Cancer Screening
- Clinical Breast Examination: Ideally done by a gynaecologist, it needs to be repeated every 2-3 years for women who are in their 30’s and annually for women 40 & above.
- Mammogram: This is low dose x-ray test done to detect small and early stage breast cancers. It should be done an interval of every 1-2 years, starting at the age of 50 but high-risk cases (with family history, late pregnancy, smoking etc.) can begin testing in their 40’s as well.
Colon Cancer Screening
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: A flexible sigmoidoscopy can be repeated after every 5 to 10 years. A simple colonoscopy can be done in every 10 years unless a problem is found in the previous test. For women, colon cancer screening generally begins at the age of 50.
Cervical Cancer Screening
- Pap Smear: Cervical cancer is majorly caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), which is a sexually transmitted infection. This test detects abnormal cells in the cervix so that they can be removed even before they turn cancerous. Women of 21-30 years (or earlier if sexually active) should do it in every 3 years. Post 30, they may combine it with HPV test, every 5 years.
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Screening
- All sexually active women must get themselves and their partners checked for HIV and other STDs before getting into sexual activity. Once a year, they must also get a pelvic exam done by a gynaecologist.
- Lipid Profile: Women should get a complete lipid profile (LDL, HDL, Triglycerides, Total Cholesterol, VLDL) done at least once in 5 years. They should begin early, if they smoke, have high blood pressure, are obese, diabetes or a family history of any heart disease.
Bone Density Check
Post menopause, women begin to lose bone mass. Due to loss of calcium, their bones become weak and prone to fracture.
- BMD: Bone Mineral Densitometry (DXA scan) is an x-ray done to measures bone strength and detects osteoporosis (porous bones) before fractures begin to occur. This should be done at least once a year beginning at age 58 and earlier depending on other risk factors for osteoporosis.
Type 2 Diabetes Screening
- Fasting Blood Sugar: A blood sugar testing after 10-12 hours of fasting is advised at least once in 2 years after 30 years of age. Women falling in high-risk category (obese, sedentary or with the family history of diabetes) should do it once a year after 40.
- HbA1C: Every 3 years for non-diabetic, otherwise healthy females who carry low-risk factors for diabetes.
Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure should be checked every 2 years starting at the age of 25. Above 40, it’s recommended to check blood pressure more often.