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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

4 Must-Have Tests for Woman 40 and Older

Black Woman in Mid-Forties

There is no trick to living a long, healthy life. It's all about taking care of yourself. Eating healthy foods, exercising, watching weight, and eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking are good habits for good health. Sometimes, in spite of all the best efforts, health problems can arise.

While eliminating all health problems is not possible, it is often possible to treat them successfully if developing conditions are detected early. These tests are highly recommended by doctors for women over 40 and 50.

#1 - Mammogram

Once a woman reaches age 40, she should get a mammogram screening, which involves x-rays of the breasts. The first screening will establish a baseline from which doctors can more easily detect changes from one mammogram to the next. If there is a family history of breast cancer, the test should be done every year, especially after age 50, because the risk of developing breast cancer increases as a woman ages. Most cases of cancer are among women over 50. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the breast cancer death rate for women aged 45--64 years is 60 percent higher among black women than white women.

#2 - Pap Test

A Pap (Papanicolau stain) test is a simple test or screen to detect cancerous cells in the cervix, the opening of the womb at the top of the vagina. The doctor simply swabs the area for sample cells that are then screened for any signs of cancer. Pap tests are recommended to begin at age 21 and should be continued after age 50 until age 65. The risk of cancer declines after that, but check with your doctor on how often screenings should be done after age 50.

#3 - Bone Density Test

Bone density refers to bone mass where bone tissue is tight and close. As we get older, bones can loose mass and become more porous and weak. Women are more susceptible to losing bone mass because as a rule they tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men. A bone density test is recommended for women age 50 and older to determine their risk of osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease. Osteoporosis can cause fractures of the hip, spine and wrist. A bone density test uses X-rays to measure the amount of minerals and calcium in the bones. Annual tests can lead to early detection and treatment. African American women tend to have higher bone density than white women but are still at risk at age 50 and older.

#4 - Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies are not just for men. More women die from colon cancer than from ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer combined. More than 90 percent of colorectal cancers occur in people older than 50. African-American women, in particular, are more likely to die from colorectal cancer than women in any other racial group. There are various forms of the test, but the test should be done every ten years unless there is a family history of colon cancer.
DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.