Know Your Numbers - Part 1: Screenings

Jul 30, 2023

 by Kim Bouldin

Routine Screenings and Lab work Recommended for Women – 2023

Prevention is worth a pound of cure! Haven’t we all heard that saying credited to Ben Franklin? Eating nutrient rich, natural foods is a priority in maintaining our health, as is moving our bodies to maintain flexibility and strength. Two other important factors not always talked about in health maintenance is “brain health” along with a significant quality of life. Who wants to live into their 80’s and beyond in a drastic, debilitated capacity? Routine screening done at regular intervals can assist us in creating plans and formulate goals to keep us functioning and living to our highest potential. I am going to break down some of these recommended tests and screenings so that you can understand what these tests screen for and how healthcare providers use them to make recommendations. 

My name is Karen Duffey and I have been an RN for 32 years. I graduated from Otterbein and have worked as a bedside nurse for many years, teaching nursing students but spending most of my career in OB nursing.   

“Health screenings can detect disease when it’s most treatable, and, in many cases, prevent serious health problems that can develop if a medical condition is left unchecked”, says University Hospitals OB/GYN David Biats, DO (South Suburban Women’s Center in Twinsburg, Ohio)

There are many types of health checks and screens that can be appropriate at different ages. Some are routine and some depend on family history. Dr. David Biats recommends the following tests and ages for screenings:

  1. Pap Test – and HPV (Human papilloma virus) tests
    1. Women should begin having Pap tests at age 21 and should be repeated at least every 3 years.
    2. HPV should start at age 30 and re-screen at least every 5 years
  2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) tests: STDs are often symptomless – and you can pass it to your partner, or if pregnant, unborn child. “Discussing STD’s and pregnancy prevention with your provider is important, even if you are not sexually active. 
  3. Diabetes screening: Should begin at age 35 and repeated every 3 years if you have no risk factors for diabetes. May screen earlier and more frequently if risk factors such as family history, overweight or obesity, high blood pressure or a history or heart disease.
  4. Mammogram: current recommendation is begun at age 40 for women with no family history and annually after that. May recommend earlier and more frequent for women with a strong family history of breast cancer. 
  5. Skin check: Begin at age 18, check your skin monthly for suspicious moles or color changes, especially if you’re fair-skinned or exposed to the sun constantly. Full body yearly skin exams with your dermatologist begin at age 40
  6. Colonoscopy: This test helps find and remove symptom-less polyps that can develop into colon cancer. These should begin at age 45, but may need to be screened sooner if you have a family history
  7. Cholesterol Test: Should begin at age 45 for women with no risk factors and at 20 for those with risk factors. (Diabetes, heart or kidney disease and some other medical problems)
  8. Lung cancer screen: Begin at age 50 if you currently smoke or have a history of smoking
  9. Bone density test: The denser your bones, the less likely they are to break. If you are a thin build or other serious risk factors, begin getting tested at age 50. Otherwise, the general guideline is to start by age 65 and repeat at least every 3 years
  10. Hearing Test:  Impaired hearing affects your mental processes and can hurt your quality of life. Get your hearing tested every 10 years until age 50, then annually after age 60
  11. Eye Exam: Recommended baseline for adults to begin at age 18, then every 2 years until age 60 unless there is a problem such as diabetes. Beginning at age 61, should have an annual exam

You can learn more and view a chart here. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Guest Blog series where Karen breaks down health related numbers.