Women's health screenings are vital

GEHA | May 7, 2020

women's health
Routine screenings, especially for breast or cervical cancer, are important to the health of women.

Although society has slowed down because of the coronavirus pandemic, your personal health marches on.

Breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer found in American women. The best way to treat breast cancer is to find it early with a mammogram.

According to the United States Preventive Services Task Force, women between the age of 40 and 49 should have an annual mammogram and once over age 50, women should have a mammogram every other year. 

Talk with your doctor if you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. In that case, you may need to have mammograms earlier or more often than commonly suggested. Risk factors include drinking two or three alcoholic beverages a day, being obese, smoking heavily and not getting regular physical activity.

Cervical cancer is another health risk for women and may be detected in two ways. A Pap smear, or Pap test, searches for precancerous cells the lower part of the uterus. An HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer.

So when should women be screened?

  • All women should begin cervical cancer testing at age 21.
  • Women between age 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years. HPV testing should not be used for screening for women in this age group unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
  • Beginning at age 30, women should receive a Pap test combined with an HPV test every five years as long as the test results are normal. This should continue until age 65. 

If you have a mammogram, Pap smear or HPV test scheduled, it is important to keep this appointment and receive testing. If you are concerned about being out in the pandemic, contact your doctor’s office. They may have physical distancing measures in place, such as having patients wait in their cars instead of the waiting room.

As your partner on the path to improved health, GEHA covers preventive health screenings at 100% for in-network providers. You can also receive health rewards for receiving your health screenings. Check your medical plan for more details.

For help scheduling an appointment, call 800.821.6136.


Sources:
“What Should I Know About Screening?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 August 2019
"Breast Cancer Awareness” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 September 2019
"Preventive Care Must Continue” U.S. News and World Report, 14 April 2020