As we move into the holiday season, many of us are surfing the internet and scanning catalogs looking for the perfect gift. At HALO DiagnosticsTM, we think one of the best gifts we can give ourselves and the women in our lives is a present that cannot be wrapped and put under the tree. That present is the gift of good health.
Good health is about more than simply eating well and exercising regularly. It’s also about getting regular health screenings. Therefore, we’d like to share some of the important health screenings for women that we offer at HALO.
Essential Health Screenings for Women
Often, people don’t find out that they have a disease until it has reached an advanced stage, when they begin to notice questionable symptoms. Unfortunately, late diagnosis reduces the number of available treatments and can reduce survival rates. Read on to learn about a few of the most important screening tests that women should consider making a part of their healthcare routines.
Mammograms to Screen for Breast Cancer
Many women know about the importance of having regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer. However, they may not be clear about when they should start and how often they should get mammograms.
Part of this confusion is due to conflicting recommendations from major medical organizations in the United States.1 For example, the American Cancer Society recommends starting yearly mammograms at the age of 40. In contrast, the United States Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend mammograms until 50, and further suggests that they should be done every two years.
At HALO, we recommend yearly mammogram screening starting at age 40 to give women the best opportunity for detecting breast cancer early. We utilize 3D mammography to obtain the highest quality images available. This technology improves detection of suspicious lumps at an early stage and reduces the need for follow-up exams (recalls).2
Bone Density Screening for Osteoporosis
As women age, particularly in their post-menopausal years, they often experience a dramatic decrease in bone health. This is often seen as decreased bone density, which may make them more prone to fractures, especially hip fractures, from a fall. These hip fractures can be catastrophic and lead to a dramatic loss in mobility, a decline in the ability to complete functions of daily living, and even death.3
Many women are not as aware as they should be regarding the risks of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, this also means that they don’t always know that testing is available to identify low bone density risk. Like with most conditions, a better treatment plan can be initiated for osteoporosis if a problem is found earlier in its progression. Fortunately, one way to do that is with a DEXA scan.
The DEXA scan performed at our centers takes low-dose X-rays of the patient’s hips and lower spine to identify women at potential risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis. These pictures will tell us if a person’s bone density falls below normal levels. Depending on the level of the decrease, a patient may be diagnosed with osteopenia (mild) or osteoporosis (more significant).
Armed with this information, women can talk with their doctors about what treatment interventions may be appropriate for them. There is now a wide range of osteoporosis drugs available on the market with various benefits and side effects. It’s crucial to have detailed conversations with your provider about which medications may work best for you, given your unique health situation.
At HALO, we recommend that all women over 70 have a screening scan. It’s also critical for other patients who have various risk factors to consider a bone density screening. Examples of these risk factors include nutritional deficiency, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, smoking, family history, the use of medications such as Prednisone, and various medical conditions such as diabetes.4 There are other risk factors as well, so if you’re uncertain, to help you decide if this is something you should consider.
Gynecological Health Screenings
It’s important for women to have regular gynecological screenings, both during their reproductive years and after them. One of the most important screening tests is a Pap smear, which identifies abnormal cells in the cervix that are often indicative of pre-cancerous or cancerous conditions.
In recent years, recommendations have changed about how frequently Pap smears should be performed, as the medical community has learned more about cervical cancer and the fact that it tends to be slow growing.5 Today, recommendations are that women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a screening Pap smear every three years.
If your pap smear results are abnormal, your Ob/Gyn or primary care provider may send you for additional testing. At HALO we offer advanced diagnostic imaging for reproductive health issues such as MRI, CT, and ultrasound.
Give the Gift of Health
As we all know too well, sometimes life becomes unusually hassled and harried. As a result, this often causes us to delay checkups and vital health screenings. Ultimately, though, these are things that cannot and should not wait.
Identifying problems early in the disease process means that treatment options are more likely to be successful. With this in mind, we recommend looking into what screening centers and services in your area might be right for you. To get started, please contact us directly or give us a call at 877-225-2831.
Once you have screening appointments setup for yourself, take time to encourage the other women in your life to talk with their medical providers about which screenings they could benefit from.
Happy holidays from our family to yours!