As National Women’s Health Week comes to a close, we want to leave you with a little food for thought toward living longer, healthier lives.
One in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The three most common cancers among women – breast, lung and colorectal – will take the lives of over 136,370 women in this year alone.
Listen up, ladies:
Schedule your annual well-woman visit.
What is a well-woman visit and why is it important?
A well-woman visit is a checkup. It’s a time to see your doctor or nurse to:
- Discuss your family history, family planning, and personal habits, such as alcohol and tobacco use.
- Get or schedule necessary tests, such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and colorectal cancer.
- Set health goals, such as being active and maintaining a healthy weight.
Schedule your well-woman visit every year. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s considered a preventive service and must be covered by most health plans at no cost to you. If your doctor or nurse says you need more than one well-woman visit in a year, the additional visits are also covered. No insurance? Ask us (hyperlink to: https://www.healthygallatin.org/diseases-conditions/cancer-screening-and-prevention/montana-cancer-screening-program/) about free cancer screening services.
A well-woman visit helps you get the preventive care you need, including screenings. Screenings can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. Screenings can also identify other problems and help lower your risk for many conditions, such as heart disease. During your well-woman visit, you can receive or schedule many screenings free of charge.
If you’re 21 or over, it’s time for Pap tests. We know – there are plenty of things you would rather do than visit the gynecologist – but temporary discomfort is better than cervical cancer. Women between 21 and 29 should get Pap tests every 3 years and women between 30 and 65 should get Pap tests plus HPV tests every 5 years. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also recommended for between the ages of 11 and 12. HPV vaccine is best at 11-12 years because preteens have a higher immune response than older teens.
Eat well, get moving, practice sun safety and quit tobacco (or never start). Only five percent of cancers are hereditary. Lifestyle choices like eating fruits and vegetables, wearing sunscreen, getting regular exercise and not smoking can greatly reduce your cancer risk.
Pay it forward. Talk to your mother, aunt, grandmother, friends and every woman in your life about getting screened. Spread the word through social media. Use the #CheckupDay hashtag.
We can’t be amazing if we’re not around. Claim your health, life and body this week and encourage every woman you know to do the same.