Experts Urge Regular Health Testing For Women
Posted May 26, 2003 2:02 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Most women think breast cancer is the number one health concern, but doctors say heart disease and ovarian cancer should also be top priorities.
Women should get regular medical tests for all potential health problems.
Peggy Clarke said she had trouble finding time to get a PAP test.
"I had a busy life. It took me a while to schedule it," she said.
Clarke waited several years, but when she finally got one, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Lt. Col. Scott Rose of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center said cervical cancer it is one of the most preventable diseases for women.
"If you at least go every single year and get screened you should not get cervical cancer," he said.
Yearly checkups can catch changes in the pre-cancerous phase.
Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer among women.
"We recommend a woman see a physician or some other health care provider on a yearly basis. Therefore, they'll have their blood pressure taken every year," Rose said.
Starting at age 45, Rose said women should monitor their cholesterol every year or two.
Breast cancer accounts for nearly one of every three cancers in women.
"There's a limit to breast self-examination, the ability of the patient to perform that exam on themselves, and you need to go to your health care provider and get the mammography," Rose said.
Rose said women should become their own health advocate.
"Don't be afraid to ask questions. You shouldn't be going to a physician or a healthcare provider that's intimidated by the fact that you're asking them questions," he said.
Rose also recommends that women with a family history of any of those diseases should begin screening as early as their 20s.
Women should also talk to their doctors about the risk of stroke and osteoporosis and what they can do to prevent them.