Women, as well as men, encounter gender-specific testing that acts as a tactical preventative step for ensuring they’re in tune with their personal health. There are a number of important tests and screenings women should submit themselves to, so that they stay abreast of diseases or conditions that threaten their long-term health, such as exams that screen for breast, lung, cervical, skin, colon, endometrial, and ovarian cancers.
Cervical Cancer: Health care professionals ask that women receive pelvic examinations as early as 21-year-old, or earlier if a woman is sexually active. Pap smear testing is instrumental for discovering if cancerous cells are present on and/or around the cervix, which could suggest cervical cancer. The general consensus is that women age 30 and older should receive pap smears every three years if they had no abnormal tests in the past. However, women who have abnormalities should chat with their gynecologist with regards to how frequently they should be tested for cervical testing.
Breast Cancer: Woman and men alike can develop breast cancer, but women face a greater risk of falling victim to cancer that develops from breast tissue. Approximately one-in-eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her lifetime, according to BreastCancer.org. The sooner a woman learns she has breast cancer, the more likely she is to survive. Breast cancer that’s discovered early on is more likely to be caught, and less likely to spread to the lymph nodes. Industry professionals recommend that women self-examine, but they should also receive mammograms. Women should develop an individualized plan with their doctors regarding a mammogram screening schedule.
Skin Cancer: There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell cancer, squamous cell skin carcinoma, and melanoma, with the most serious being melanoma. These deadly forms of cancer have increased in incidence among young women. Screenings can help to identify melanoma and nonmelanoma cancer early on. Dermatologists and other healthcare professionals should be able to diagnose melanoma.
Osteoporosis: Bone density tests are administered to screen for the weakening of bones, which leads to fragility. This is also known as osteoporosis, a condition that’s frequently discovered after a fracture. Women face the additional risk of osteoporosis, particularly those going through menopause. Estrogen declines during menopause can lead to bone loss. Screening for changes through bone mineral density tests and embracing healthy living habits can help to identify issues early on. Women should begin receiving bone density tests ahead of their 65th birthday.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women get screened for a number of conditions in the interest of disease prevention, including colorectal cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes.