Although medicine advances daily and offers new and better treatments for various diseases, the most effective and economical way to stay healthy is prevention. Did you know that 50% of cancer deaths can be avoided by leading a healthy life and taking annual preventive tests?
Part of preventive health culture is conducting a series of tests regularly, to rule out some diseases that are more prevalent in women. Here, we tell you 7 exams that every woman should take periodically.
1. The breast examination
Perhaps it is the most recommended test and the most campaigns to raise awareness for it have been created in recent years. The reason is that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and the one that has more than 90% curability if detected in time. There are two types of examination, the clinical one, performed by the doctor, and self-examination, performed by yourself at home.
Although it is less likely in women before age 35, at annual checkups, gynecologists palpate their breasts and underarms in search of skin alterations. For women who are around the age when menopause might commence, it is recommended to self-examine in front of the mirror three to five days after the start of the period for a more reliable result. Ideally, it has to be done monthly.
2. The mammography
We all know it as an unpleasant test, but, despite this, the mammography remains the most effective method to detect the presence of tumors that could trigger breast cancer in a timely manner. It is recommended for women over 40.
3. Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer
Knowing how likely you are to develop an inherited neoplasm throughout your life is a key determinant for taking action. That was the case for actress Angelina Jolie, who, after doing this examination, decided to remove both breasts, because it was 87% likely for her to develop cancer in a few years. Although you do not necessarily have to reach that extreme, it is important to prevent. It is worth mentioning that this test is recommended for women who have a family history of cancer.
4. The pelvic examination
It is usual at the gynecological clinic: the doctor palpates your vagina and presses your abdomen. This test is used to detect cysts, fibroids and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and is recommended for women aged 21 and over.
5. The Pap smear
It is the most commonly used technique to detect cervical cancer and lesions that could lead to cancer early. Although there are still girls who have some fear of doing it, the truth is that it is a simple test, not painful at all. A sample is taken from the vagina and analyzed in the laboratory.
Medical consensus indicates that women between the ages of 25 and 65, who are or have been sexually active, should be given the pap smear every three years.
6. The colorectal cancer screening test
Colon cancer is also a very common type of cancer and, with its high mortality rate, it is vital to detect it in its early stages. Although colonoscopy – which entails the introduction of a small tube with a camera at the end of it in the anus to explore the bowels – is critical for a definitive diagnosis, there are those who still resist because of how uncomfortable it is. Thanks to technology, there is now the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), which, while not replacing colonoscopy, serves as a first test to detect if there is anything wrong with your intestines. It is recommended for men and women between 50 and 69, although, if you have a family history of cancer, it is possible for the doctor to recommend the test before that age bracket.
7. Bone densitometry
This test is used to determine bone mass and understand the bones’ state, in order to be able to estimate the risk of fractures and the possibility of osteoporosis, a disease characterized by progressive loss of calcium and a decrease in bone mass. This happens especially with postmenopausal women. So, if you are over 45, have been diagnosed with early menopause or have a family history of osteoporosis, undergoing densitometry is super important.
In addition to these tests, the Cobas HPV test, which serves to detect the human papillomavirus, is one of the most important cancer tests to come out in recent years.