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"I encourage my patients to schedule their annual health screenings," said Jana L. Deitch, MD, FACS, director of the breast health program at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital. "Factors like age, family history and lifestyle play a key role in our health. So, getting annual health screenings can help to detect potential issues early when most treatable. The key to survival is early detection."


Importance of Health Screenings

Women should make time for healthy habits, including preventive screenings. Routine screenings detect problems that may remain hidden until the condition becomes advanced and more challenging to treat.

Here are five of the most important health screenings you should discuss with your primary care physician.


Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. It occurs primarily in women over the age of 45, with most women diagnosed in their early 60s. A mammogram captures an image of the breasts so a physician can identify potential abnormalities. Catching cancer early is critical to better outcomes. Talk to your physician about when you should start having mammograms. Most women begin in their mid-40s to 50s. 

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Cervical Cancer 

A Pap smear checks for abnormal cells on your cervix. A physician collects cells from your cervix with a brush and examines them under a microscope. By identifying cancerous cells early, more treatment options are available, and there’s less risk of cancer spreading elsewhere in the reproductive system. Women older than 21 should have Pap smears every three years. Women over 65 should have the test every five years, but discuss specific timing with your physician.

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Cholesterol is essentially fat in your bloodstream. Too much LDL or VLDL, often called “bad cholesterol,” causes waxy plaque to build up in your arteries. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other dangerous cardiovascular issues. Fortunately, lifestyle changes can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood. A simple blood test can determine your cholesterol levels so you can take action to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

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Colorectal Cancer 

Colorectal cancer occurs inside your colon, where it often goes unnoticed. A colonoscopy allows physicians to identify polyps and cancerous growths early when the disease is most manageable to treat. Left to grow, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Your physician will help you decide when to schedule a colonoscopy and how often you should have one based on your family history and age.

View colorectal cancer services 

Type 2 Diabetes 

A blood test can determine if you’re at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The condition occurs when there’s too much glucose in your blood. Diabetes can lead to kidney disease, heart disease, skin problems, blindness and nerve damage. Diabetes can be controlled with diet, medications, exercise and lifestyle changes. Ask your physician to have your A1C checked so you know your numbers. 

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These are just a few of the health screenings women should have. Speak to your physician to determine the most important screenings for you based on your age, risk factors and individual health history.

Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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