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 Post subject: Proper medical tests can save women’s lives
 Post Posted: Mon May 09, 2005 12:05 am 
Proper medical tests can save women’s lives

Checkups even more important as you get older

Men are notorious for avoiding the doctor, but an ENQUIRER investigation has discovered that many women are just as bad when it comes to avoiding regular physical exams and age-related medical tests that could save their lives!

“Whether you use your gynecologist or a family doctor as your primary care physician, it is important to be properly screened for common conditions as you get older,” notes Dr. Bryan Cowan, chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Mississippi medical center in Jackson, and co-author of Guidelines for women’s Health from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“With proper medical screening, you have a better chance of catching life-threatening illnesses earlier.”

Here are recommendations from top Ob/Gyns for tests women should have at each stage of their lives:

Ages 19-39

At this age, every woman should have a detailed health screening that is updated annually. This should include a medical history; a dietary and nutritional assessment; questions on tobacco, alcohol or drug use; a discussion of sexual practices and any history of abuse or neglect.

An annual physical exam should include measurements of height, weight, blood pressure, check of the neck for thyroid problems as well as an examination of the breasts, pelvis and skin and a Pap smear to detect cervical cancer.

A woman’s doctor should also make an annual evaluation of sexual activity, fitness and nutrition, relationships and stress.

“Your doctor should be checking for cardiovascular risk factors such as family history, cholesterol profiles, obesity and diabetes,” said Dr. Cowan.

A woman may also need a hemoglobin assessment (red blood cells), a mammogram, a fasting blood sugar test (for diabetes), HIV testing, genetic testing, tuberculosis skin testing, lipid profiles for cholesterol, hepatitis C testing, colorectal screening and bone density screening.

“Every 10 years, we recommend screening patients for tetanus. There are still deaths in this country from lockjaw and it is very preventable,” he said.


After 40, the following tests should be added:

- Yearly fecal occult blood testing for colorectal cancer.

“If we find blood in the stool, the patient is referred to a gastroenterologist for further workup,” said Dr. Cowan. “Probably only 15-20 percent of cases will show up as cancer. In the majority cases, there is a fissure or polyp or something else.”

Alternatively, women have a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy every five years check for colorectal cancer .

- Mammography every one to two years.

- Lipid assessment every years beginning at age 45.

“We want to help women lower their cholesterol levels. A patient with high cholesterol will referred to a cardiologist for flu treatment,” Dr. Cowan note

- Fasting glucose testing eveery three years beginning at age 45 to check for diabetes.


At 50, add the following procedures:

- An annual flu shot.

- Yearly counseling and evaluation for hormone replacement therapy.

A doctor will measure breast cancer risk and cardiovascular risk to determine if it is worth it for the patient to take horn replacement therapy.

- Thyroid stimulating horn screening every five years. The most common form of thyroid dysfunction is hypothyroid (too little hormone), and it is easily treated with medication, noted Dr. Cowan.

- Colonoscopy every 10 years to check for colorectal cancer.


Additional tests that should be done annually.

- Urine analysis.

- Bone density screening for ostroporosis.

- Evaluation and counseling the area of vision, hearing and depression.


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