The No. 1 Way Women Can Catch Diseases Early
Regardless of what life stage you're in, there’s one thing all women should prioritize for their health: recommended preventive screenings.
Family History Lead Rindy to Take Action
For Rindy Walton, her sister’s breast cancer diagnosis at age 28 was a wake-up call. Now, she never misses her regular women’s health checkups.
“Because I think just regular checkups are so important, as uncomfortable as they are, it's finding out about things that can be treated or finding out that, okay, nothing is wrong,” she says.
While knowing her family history has encouraged Rindy to get regular mammograms, “Unfortunately, the vast majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history,” John Fackler MD, of TriHealth Women’s Services Northeast, explains.
Breast Self-Exams: They're Critical for Early Detection
This does not mean, however, you should feel helpless; but instead, you should be your own health care advocate.
For example, while many women get mammograms, however, “About 90 percent of women find their own breast cancer. It’s not found by a doctor or on a mammogram – and those folks find those cancers through breast self-exams,” Dr. Fackler points out.
- Related: Should Men Perform Self-Breast Exams?
- Related: How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam
Furthermore, other tests, including blood pressure screenings and pap smears, can also detect problems early enough to intervene. However, “A pap smear is designed only to find the changes that could become cervical cancer,” he says. “Our goal is not to actually diagnose cancer. Our goal is to diagnose the changes that would become to cancer over time. Again, so we can intervene.”
Dr. Fackler and his team remind their patients that it’s important to ask your doctor about screening and lifestyle recommendations that change with age.