Health News
Health News
March 1, 2018
Health Screenings: What You Need and When

One of the most important things we can all do for our health and wellness is to get recommended health screenings at the right times.  But what does that mean exactly?  Some screenings are for everyone, but others may be specific to a person’s age, gender or medical history.  In some cases, a need for a screening is not clear-cut; in these circumstances the patient and health care provider should discuss the pros and cons. 

“At Privia North Texas, our focus is on our patients’ wellness,” says Dr. Larry Tatum, a gynecologist and the CEO of Privia Medical Group North Texas.  “Health screenings are an important part of giving our patients the best chance of staying healthy.  If there’s a problem, the sooner we know about it, the greater the likelihood we can address it and prevent it from developing into something serious.”

Below are some of the most important health screenings everyone should be aware of. 

Important Note: Every person is unique and some people may need screenings more often or may need to begin them sooner than these guidelines state.  These are simply general guidelines; your medical history, your family health history and other factors may lead your physician to recommend a different approach. 

Cholesterol Screening

Who Needs it & When

Children between the ages of 9-11

Young adults between the ages of 17-21

Adults every 4-6 years, if no history of heart disease

Adults with a history of heart disease should visit with their physician about how often to be screened. 

What it Involves

A simple blood test. 

Why it’s Important

“High cholesterol levels can lead to numerous health problems, including heart disease.  By having your cholesterol checked periodically, we’ll know if we need to bring your cholesterol down through diet and exercise changes and possibly a prescription medication.”  

–Dr. Ronald BlairPediatrics - Plano

Guideline Source

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

 

Blood Pressure Screening

Who Needs it & When

Men and women, age 18-39: every three to five years.

Men and women, age 40 and older: every year.

What it Involves

A simple, quick screening using a cuff around the arm. 

Why it’s Important

“High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can damage the arteries and places additional strain on the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease.  High blood pressure also increases the risk of diabetes.”

Dr. Isaac WatembergPrimary Care - Fort Worth

Guideline Source

U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce

 

Diabetes Screening 

Who Needs it & When

Men and women age 45 and older, every three years 

Men and women ages 19-44, if overweight or obese

Women who have had gestational diabetes

What it Involves

A simple blood test to check blood sugar levels.  This is often done in conjunction with a cholesterol screening. 

Why it’s Important

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body not using food properly.  Diabetes can cause a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, vision loss, kidney disease and nerve damage.” 

Dr. Jason LedbetterInternal Medicine - Fort Worth

Guideline Source

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

 

Breast Cancer Screening (Mammogram)

Who Needs it & When

Women ages 40-49 who have a normal risk of breast cancer should consider having a mammogram screening every year or every other year.

All women age 50 and older should have a mammogram every year or two years.

What it Involves

A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast.  The radiologist uses the image to identify any abnormalities that may be of concern. 

Why it’s Important

“Mammograms are the key to the early detection of breast cancer. We know when we catch breast cancer early, treatment is more effective and the odds of beating the disease are much higher.” 

Dr. Anita ChowBreast Surgical Oncology - Fort Worth

Guideline Source

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

 

Cervical Cancer Screening (Pap Test & Pelvic Exam)

Who Needs it & When

Women ages 21-29 should have a Pap test every three years. 

Women age 30-65 should have a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years. 

What it Involves

Generally provided as part of a well-woman exam, the doctor conducts a visual internal and external examination of the pelvic area.  The Pap test is done by taking a sample of cells from the cervix.  The entire exam only takes a few minutes. 

Why it’s Important

“The Pap test is used to detect cervical cancer, as well as cellular changes that may eventually lead to cancer.  By detecting these changes early, we can treat or even prevent cancer from occurring in the first place.” 

Dr. Martha GuerraGynecology & Obstetrics - Fort Worth

Guideline Source

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

 

Colorectal Cancer Screening (Colonoscopy) 

Who Needs it & When

Men and women, ages 50-75.

If there are no abnormal results, repeat test once every ten years.  

What it Involves

When having a colonoscopy, the patient must have a completely empty bowel.  This typically means patients cannot eat solid foods the day before the procedure and must limit themselves to prescribed fluids to flush out the bowels.   The procedure itself typically lasts between 20 minutes and 1 hour.  The patient is usually sedated as the physician inserts a colonoscope, a long tube with a light on the end of it, into the colon.  The colonoscope provides the physician a complete view of the colon. 

Why it’s Important

“A colonoscopy is the most effective way to detect cancers of the colon and rectum.  Early detection and treatment greatly increases the odds of a full recovery. The colonoscopy also allows us to spot precancerous polyps and remove them during the screening.”    

Dr. Jason AllenColon & Rectal Surgery - Fort Worth

Guideline Source:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Hepatitis C Screening

Who Needs it & When

Men and women who were born 1945-1965 (Baby Boomers)

One-time test

What it Involves

A blood test.

Why it’s Important

“Unlike Hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C.  While Hepatitis C often produces no symptoms, it can eventually cause serious liver damage. Baby Boomers are more at risk than others, which is why they should get this one-time test.  If detected, Hepatitis C can be treated with medication.”   

Dr. Pavani MuddasaniGastroenterology - Fort Worth

Guideline Source

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other Screenings

There are other health screenings that may be appropriate for you, depending on your age and medical history.  Some screenings that you may consider discussing with your physician include:

  • Glaucoma screening: Glaucoma is a serious eye disease and if untreated, can lead to vision loss.  People over the age of 40 should discuss the merits of this screening with their physician. 

  • PSA test: There is some debate whether men over age 50 should have their PSA levels checked as a means of detecting prostate cancer.  You should discuss the pros and cons of this test with your physician.

  • Lung cancer screening: People with a history of heavy smoking and who still smoke or have quit in the last 15 years may consider a lung cancer screening.  Again, this is something to discuss with your physician. 

“Regular health screenings are essential to maintaining your good health.  If you have questions on any of these screenings, you should discuss them with your health care provider,” says Dr. Paresh Patel, a primary care physician in Fort Worth.  “Every person is different, and your physician will give you the best advice based on your medical history and any other factors.”