Tawnia Lashley is a mom of two boys. In 2009, she saw her doctor for her annual exam and had no reason for concern. She was not overweight. She did not smoke. She was not sexually active at a young age. She was not older than 50. She had not had any abnormal pap readings before. She never had HPV.
Unfortunately, cancer did not care. Lashley was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer. However, because it was caught early, the result meant surgery, but no radiation or chemotherapy.
“I know that my treatment (just surgery) would not have been the case had I not gone in for a routine exam,” Lashley said. “The cancer I had was aggressive. It would have spread to my lymph nodes had I not been diagnosed earlier.”
How often do you make the appointments necessary to maintain your health? Here is a list of 10 appointments you should make — and keep — no matter how “good” you feel.
1. Overall wellness check
Annually. During this visit, your doctor will check blood pressure and weight, and should talk with you about any concerns you have — physical or mental. This annual general appointment should serve as an opportunity for you to ensure you are living a healthy lifestyle.
2. Dental exam
Going to regular checkups every six months will help keep gums and teeth healthy, as well as detect any early problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities.
3. Eye exam
Every two years until age 61, according to the American Optometric Association. After age 61, an annual exam is recommended for those who are not experiencing any specific problems.
4. Dermatology exam
Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, so be sure to check in with your dermatologist annually. If you have never received a skin cancer screening, American Academy of Dermatology members offer free screenings across the United States.
According to the American Diabetes Association, if you are overweight and age 45 or older, you should be checked for prediabetes during your next routine medical visit. If your weight is normal and you’re over age 45, ask your doctor during a routine office visit if testing is appropriate.
According to the National Cancer Institute, women 40 years and older should have a mammogram every two years. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, your doctor may recommend them before age 40.
7. Colorectal exam
Women should talk with a doctor or health care provider about when to begin screening for colorectal cancer and how often to schedule appointments.
8. Cholesterol test
The American Heart Association recommends that all adults age 20 or older should get their total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides checked once every five years.
9. Bone-density exam
According to womenshealth.org, women older than 65 years of age should be tested for bone density. Talk with your doctor if you are younger than 65 and have risk factors for osteoporosis.
10. Cervical cancer exam
Although it depends on your age and health history, most women can follow these guidelines from the National Cancer Institute:
- Starting at age 21, every two years.
- If you are 30 years old and older and have had three normal Pap tests for three years in a row, talk to your doctor about doing a Pap test every three years.
Healthy adults keep health-related appointments, no matter how “good” they feel. Seeing your health care provider can ensure that early detection keeps you clear and/or ahead of the game.
More on women’s health
Colorectal cancer: What you need to know
Pap smear basics
What is diabetes?
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