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Preventive Care for Women

By Nina Radford, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cooper Clinic.

If improving on bad health habits, getting acquainted with your primary care physician or maintaining your good health is on your list of goals for this year, good for you.

To help you organize your approach to maximizing your health, we thought we would outline a preventive care and screening strategy for women in the table below. This outline may differ slightly from one you’ve read in a magazine or seen in literature from your insurance company. It is important to remember that strategies or guidelines for screening can vary depending on the organization that publishes them.

For example, the American College of Physicians may publish a slightly different recommendation on mammography than the American Cancer Society. Why would they vary? These guidelines are based on numerous studies that have been published in medical journals. Each organization may have a little different interpretation about how the results of the studies should be applied to the general population.

The application of these guidelines and strategies by health care providers can also vary from person to person. You and your neighbor who are the same age may see the same doctor but she recommends a test in your neighbor that she doesn’t recommend for you. Is your doctor playing favorites? No, she is using her knowledge and skill to individualize the use of the screening test based on your clinical risk profiles. Your neighbor may have a strong family history of cancers for example and thus needs a screening test at an earlier age and someone at average or low risk.

While these guidelines may vary a bit for each individual, they all share a feature that applies equally to everyone: they serve as a great springboard for important dialogue between you and your health care provider!

Preventive Screening or Service Frequency

Counseling about alcohol, tobacco, drug use, domestic violence, seat belt use, general nutrition, physical activity STDs and HIV, contraception or hormone replacement and fall prevention – Yearly

Counseling about calcium and folic acid supplementation – Yearly

Blood Pressure, Height and Weight – Yearly

Dental and Vision Examination – Yearly

Hearing Examination – Periodically

Breast Examination – Yearly

Pelvic Examination – Yearly

PAP Smear – Yearly in women with a cervix

Fecal Occult Blood – Yearly after age 40

Mammography – Yearly after age 40

Lipid (Cholesterol) Profile – Every 1-3 years

Diabetes (Glucose) Screen – Every 1-3 years

Sigmoidoscopy – Every 5-10 years from age 40-50

Colonoscopy – Every 5-10 years after age 50

Influenza vaccine – Yearly

Tetanus toxoid – Every 10 years

Pneumoccocal – Once after the age of 65 or earlier for higher risk patients

For more information on Cooper Clinic or to schedule a comprehensive preventive exam, visit our website or call 972.560.2667.

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