Published on June 14, 2016

Q&A for women: Get the screenings you need

Screening tests save lives.

Karen KishThey can catch health problems early, when they are often easier to treat.

And some serious health problems may be prevented altogether with timely testing.

Here’s more on the tests every woman needs, from Karen Kish, MD, a breast and colon surgeon at Mercy Philadelphia.

Should I be screened for colon cancer?

In a word, yes. Most women should begin screening at age 50. And there are a variety of screenings to choose from. I think colonoscopy is often the best choice. But talk with your doctor about which test is right for you.

What about different recommendations for getting mammograms?

There’s conflicting advice on when, and how often, women should get mammograms. But it’s clear that mammograms save lives.

As a general guideline, most women should begin yearly mammograms at age 40, depending on their personal health history and breast cancer risk.

What other screenings do I need?

Your doctor will consider your age, family medical history and your risks for certain diseases. He or she may recommend:

  • Regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks
  • Regular pap tests
  • A bone density test at age 65

What else can I do to stay healthy?

Getting the right screening tests at the right time is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

But, as beneficial as they are, screening tests are never a substitute for regular checkups and a healthy lifestyle. Stick to healthy habits: eat well, exercise regularly and avoid risks like smoking.