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Wellness Minute - Importance of Screenings

Goal: Keeping You Healthy!

Screenings are important because they have the ability to detect disease and certain cancers early - or maybe even prevent them from happening. Below are screening recommendations for men, women, and children.

Screening Recommendations for Men

Below are screening tests to schedule based on your age.

  • Schedule an annual exam: Review your overall health status - perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health-related topics. Should be scheduled every 3 years unless your provider states otherwise.
  • Blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause permanent damage to body organs. Screenings should be performed every year.
  • TB skin test: Should be done on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at the direction of your provider. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.
  • Blood tests and urinalysis: Screens for various illnesses and diseases (such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney, or thyroid dysfunction) before symptoms occur.
  • EKG: Electrocardiogram screens for heart abnormalities. A baseline test should be performed at age 30.
  • Tetanus booster: Prevents lockjaw. Tetanus with pertussis booster should be given one time during adulthood. Should receive booster every 10 years.
  • Self-exams: The following should be performed monthly by self: testicle - to find lumps in their earliest stages; skin - to look for signs of changing moles, freckles, or early skin cancer; oral - to look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth; and breast: to find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Sexually active adults who consider themselves at risk for STDs should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and other STDs. Screenings should take place at the discretion of the provider.

Ages 40 - 49

  • Schedule an annual exam: Review your overall health status - perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health-related topics. Should be scheduled every 2 years unless your provider states otherwise.
  • Blood pressure: High blood pressure can cause permanent damage to body organs. Screenings should be performed every year.
  • TB skin test: Should be done on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at the direction of your provider. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.
  • Blood tests and urinalysis: Screens for various illnesses and diseases (such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney, or thyroid dysfunction) before symptoms occur.
  • EKG: Electrocardiogram screens for heart abnormalities.
  • Tetanus booster: Prevents lockjaw. Tetanus with pertussis booster should be given one time during adulthood. Should receive booster every 10 years.
  • Rectal exam: Screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon, and prostate cancer. Screenings should be performed every year.
  • PSA blood test: Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is produced by the prostate. Levels rise when there is an abnormality such as an infection, enlargement, or cancer. Testing should be done in collaboration with your provider. Some medical associations recommend that men speak to their health care providers about a baseline PSA blood test at age 40. Men at high risk, including African Americans, should consider an annual prostate exam beginning at age 40.
  • Hemoccult: Screens the stool for microscopic amounts of blood that can be the first indication of polyps or colon cancer. Should be screened every year.
  • Chest X-Ray: Should be considered in smokers over the age of 45. The usefulness of this test on a yearly basis is debatable due to poor cure rates of lung cancer. Discuss the frequency of screening with your provider.
  • Self-exams: The following should be performed monthly by self: testicle - to find lumps in their earliest stages; skin - to look for signs of changing moles, freckles, or early skin cancer; oral - to look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth; breast - to find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages; and testosterone screening - low testosterone symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and depression. Initial screening for symptoms with a questionnaire followed by a simple blood test. Discuss the frequency of screenings with your provider.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Sexually active adults who consider themselves at risk for STDs should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and other STDs. Screenings should take place at the discretion of the provider.

Ages 50+

  • Schedule an annual exam: Review your overall health status - perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health-related topics. Should be scheduled every year unless your provider states otherwise.
  • Blood pressure: High blood pressure (hypertension) has no symptoms, but can cause permanent damage to body organs. Screenings should be performed every year.
  • TB skin test: Should be done on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at the direction of your provider. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.
  • Blood tests and urinalysis: Screens for various illnesses and diseases (such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney, or thyroid dysfunction) before symptoms occur. Screening should be done every year.
  • EKG: Electrocardiogram screens for heart abnormalities.
  • Tetanus booster: Prevents lockjaw. Tetanus with pertussis booster should be given one time during adulthood. Should receive booster every 10 years.
  • Rectal exam: Screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon, and prostate cancer. Screenings should be performed every year.
  • PSA blood test: Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) is produced by the prostate. Levels rise when there is an abnormality such as an infection, enlargement, or cancer. Testing should be done in collaboration with your provider. Screening should take place every year.
  • Hemoccult: Screens the stool for microscopic amounts of blood that can be the first indication of polyps or colon cancer. Should be screened every year.
  • Colorectal health: A colonoscopy is recommended for detecting cancer at its earliest and treatable stages. It also detects polyps, which are benign growths that can progress to cancer if not found early. Screenings should take place every 10 years or by provider recommendation.
  • Chest X-Ray: Should be considered in smokers over the age of 45. The usefulness of this test on a yearly basis is debatable due to poor cure rates of lung cancer. Discuss the frequency of screening with your provider.
  • Bone health: Bone mineral density test. Testing is best done under the supervision of your provider. Beginning at age 60, discuss the frequency of screening with your provider.
  • Self-exams: The following should be performed monthly by self: testicle - to find lumps in their earliest stages; skin - to look for signs of changing moles, freckles, or early skin cancer; oral - to look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth; breast - to find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages; and testosterone screening - low testosterone symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and depression. Initial screening for symptoms with a questionnaire followed by a simple blood test. Discuss the frequency of screenings with your provider.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Sexually active adults who consider themselves at risk for STDs should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and other STDs. Screenings should take place at the discretion of the provider.

10 Screening Tests Women Need

These general guidelines apply to most healthy women. All women should talk to a doctor about a personal schedule for regular health screenings. Depending on your age, overall health and risk factors, your doctor may also recommend tests for additional health problems, such as vision and hearing loss.

Blood Pressure

Timeframe: Once a year

Blood pressure is the force exerted on your blood vessel walls during and between heartbeats. It can be measured in a few seconds with an inflatable arm cuff. If your blood pressure is high, you may be at risk for stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease. Because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms, you probably won't know you have it unless you're getting screened. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), everyone should have his or her blood pressure checked by a health professional at least every two years. If it's high it should be checked more often. Lifestyle changes, medications or both can help lower blood pressure.

Cholesterol

Timeframe: Everyone age 20 and older should have a cholesterol test every five years, if normal. Testing may be more frequently if elevated or if taking medication.

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance in the blood. To check cholesterol levels, a small sample of blood is taken and sent to a lab. A high level of cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, everyone age 20 and older should have a cholesterol test every four to six years. The test should measure total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol; and triglycerides (blood fats). If all of these numbers aren't available, total cholesterol and HDL should at least be checked. Lifestyle changes, medication or both can help lower cholesterol and the risks of heart disease and stroke.

Cervical Cancer

Timeframe: The ACS recommends regular Pap tests for all women starting at age 21.

For women who fall into the average-risk category, the test can be done every 3 years until age 29. Starting at age 30, the ACS recommends a Pap test and an HPV test (called co-testing) every 5 years. Also acceptable is continued testing with the Pap test alone every 3 years, according to the ACS. Some women older than 65 may safely stop testing if they meet certain criteria. Cervical cancer starts in the cervix, the lower opening of the uterus. This cancer can be found early using a Pap test and, in some cases, a test for human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). For the Pap test, your doctor brushes some cells off of your cervix and vagina to check for signs of early cancer or precancer. Before this test was introduced, cancer of the cervix was one of the most common causes of cancer death in women.

Breast Cancer

Timeframe: Baseline mammogram by age 40; Annual mammogram age 40 and above; For women with first degree relative with premenopausal breast cancer, begin screening 10 years earlier than the age at relatives diagnosis (but above age 30)

Mammograms, a specialized x-ray of the breast, help detect breast cancer at an early stage when tumors are too small to feel and treatment is most effective.

Colorectal Cancer

Timeframe: Colorectal cancer screening should start at age 50, according to the ACS.

Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Screening can catch this cancer early or help prevent it by finding growths that would have become cancer. Your doctor may recommend a fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, barium enema, virtual colonoscopy or some combination of these tests. You may need to start screening earlier if you have colorectal cancer risk factors.

Osteoporosis

Timeframe: Age 65 and older

Osteoporosis, which thins and weakens the bones, affects millions of women and eventually leads to a broken bone for half of women over age 50, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Some of these fractures lead to permanent disability or death. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women ages 65 and older have routine screenings for osteoporosis. Screening is also recommended for younger women at high risk for fractures, according to the USPSTF. Risk factors include smoking, alcohol use, low body mass index and a parental history of fracture. According to the NIA, the best test of bone density is DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scanning. This specialized x-ray shows how dense your bones are. If your bones are becoming weak, lifestyle changes, medications or both can help prevent, slow or reverse bone loss.

Diabetes

Timeframe: Age 45 and older; Women younger than 45 may need to be tested if they're overweight or have other risk factors

A blood sugar test can detect the earliest stages of diabetes, a chronic disease that can have life-threatening consequences without proper treatment. Diabetes affects 29.1 million Americans, according to CDC. The American Diabetes Association recommends that women age 45 and older should ask their doctors at their next routine office visit if they should be screened. Women younger than 45 may need to be tested if they're overweight or have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides (a type of fat in the bloodstream), a history of diabetes during pregnancy or a family history of diabetes. Lifestyle changes, medications or both can help hold off diabetes or its complications.

Depression

Depression affects 1 in 8 U.S. women at some point in life. Screening for this serious, treatable disease should be a part of everyone's regular healthcare, according to Mental Health America (MHA). The screening includes education about depression and a few simple questions about symptoms. If you've been feeling sad or hopeless and have lost interest or pleasure in doing things for more than 2 weeks straight, talk to your doctor. In more than 80 percent of cases, treatment helps, reports MHA.

Skin Cancer

Timeframe: Annually

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, according to the ACS. Regular screening can catch it early, when it can almost always be cured. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the best way to catch these cancers early is with monthly skin self-exams and yearly skin exams done by a doctor. These exams seek out moles or growths that are larger around than a pencil eraser, have irregular borders, are asymmetrical or have color variations.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

STIs are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. They affect people of all backgrounds and incomes. Especially in women, STIs aren't likely to have any symptoms. Some of these diseases can lead to infertility, cancer or death. STI tests often require a blood sample, urine sample or vaginal swab. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you should be tested.

Children

Annual well-child visits are highly recommended for all children. At that time, your provider will discuss with you the recommended screenings and vaccinations, along with developmental milestones.

All of these screenings are recommendations. Please discuss screenings with your provider to determine the appropriate care plan for you. At Crossing Rivers Health, our goal is to keep you healthy!