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Apr 25, 2012 10:20AM, Published by Style, Categories: Wellness, In Print




Let’s face it – nobody relishes going to the doctor for tests.

However, without certain screenings your doctor won’t have the necessary information to determine your risk for varying diseases, says Dr. Christine Cambridge, OB/GYN with Marshall Medical. “I can’t look at a person and tell them whether or not their cholesterol is high, so if there is something that’s abnormal we may want to address it, but without the information we don’t even know,” she adds. And those fears you have about certain tests? “What I tell people is come in and talk to me about it,” says Dr. Ruppie Dehal, a physician with Mercy Medical Group in Rocklin. “If you let us know, there are things that we can do to make it a little easier and help to relieve your mind of all those worries.” Here’s a look at the top five medical tests that Doctors Cambridge and Dehal say every woman needs.

1. PAP SMEAR/PELVIC EXAM

Who to See? Family practitioner or OB/GYN.

Why? A pap smear screens for cervical cancer. However, Dr. Dehal says a pelvic exam is important as well because sometimes a woman can have fibroids or lumps on the ovaries or uterus that don’t show up on a pap smear, but do show up during a physical pelvic exam.

How often? Dr. Cambridge says current recommendations say to start pap smears at 21 years of age or three years after someone becomes sexually active. “Less than 30 (years old) we’re screening them every two years and older than 30 we’re screening them about every three years, and that changes with individual patient risk factors,” she adds.

2. MAMMOGRAM

Who to See? Family practitioner or OB/GYN can order one for you.

Why? Screen for breast cancer, which the National Cancer Institute estimates the disease will kill almost 40,000 women in 2012.

How Often? Dr. Cambridge says they normally begin at age 40. “Some screening algorithms encourage screening every two years, others every year, but consistently at 50 years old they’re advocating an annual screening of mammography,” she says.  

 

3. COLONOSCOPY

Who to See? Patient referral to a gastroenterologist.
 
Why? Dr. Dehal says it’s to screen for colon cancer and anything else that may be going on in the colon.

How Often? The first should be done when a woman turns 50 and then every 10 years, says Dr. Cambridge.

4. BONE DENSITY

Who to See? Patient referral to department of radiology.
 
Why? Dr. Dehal says this screening is to help ward off osteoporosis and prevent any type of fractures. “And quality of life – if you actually get a hip fracture, it just goes down dramatically, so the idea is to prevent it from happening in the first place,” she adds.

How Often? Dr. Cambridge says screenings typically begin at age 65 and normally occur every two years.

5. BLOOD WORK PANEL

Who to See? Family practitioner or OB/GYN.

Why? The blood work panel would include fasting glucose, thyroid, and cholesterol testing. “You’re going to be looking for chronic disease – heart disease, diabetes, some of those diseases that creep up as we age,” Dr. Cambridge explains. “Also include thyroid testing; as people age, they become hypothyroid sometimes and you want to catch that.”

How Often? Every three to five years depending on the patient, Dr. Cambridge says.

For 5 Medical Tests Every Man Needs, check back next month!


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