It’s go time: Get your health screenings for a healthy you
GEHA | January 9, 2019
It’s a new year and a good time to schedule your annual health screenings. Screenings are tests that check for health problems, such as cancer or heart disease, before you have any symptoms. Regular screenings might find health conditions early when treatment is likely to work best.
Recommended preventive screenings include:
- Breast cancer: Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Doctors recommend women have mammograms every year starting at age 50 and may want to start as early as age 40, depending on family history or other risk factors.
- Cervical cancer: A Pap test can find precancerous cells before they turn into invasive cancer, stopping cervical cancer before it really starts. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus that can cause changes in cells. Women ages 21 to 65 should have a Pap test every three years. Women age 30 and older can consider testing every five years if the Pap test is combined with testing for HPV.
- Colorectal cancer: Colon cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screenings find these polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. The risks and benefits of these screening methods vary and should be discussed with your health care provider.
In addition to these, there are several other preventive screenings that your health care provider may recommend for you based on factors such as age, gender and personal and family medical history. Talk with your doctor. Together you can decide on an appropriate screening schedule.
Take control of your health and follow these tips to help reduce your cancer risk.
- Avoid all forms of tobacco.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle by getting regular physical activity.
- Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Protect your skin.
- Know your family history and health risks.
- Get regular checkups and cancer screenings.
“American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer,” cancer.org, American Cancer Society, 30 May 2018.
Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2 May 2018.