Guest blogger: Karen R.. Compliance, Quality and Clinical Program Specialist
We recently welcomed in the New Year—one that we hope is filled with opportunity. You might have already defined your goals and set a plan, but we recommend you seriously consider adding ‘take charge of your health’ to the top of your list! Making it a priority to schedule your well health visits is the perfect place to start; and while doing so, be sure to remember to add your women’s wellness checkup to your list.
Annual women’s wellness visits can have a major impact on your overall health. They can play a major role in disease prevention as well as boost your chances for early detection of potentially serious health conditions. In addition, problems identified in the early stages may increase your chances for successful treatment and recovery and decrease your chances for further serious health risks.
During your wellness visit, your physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner will assess your current health and discuss any risk factors that may be related to your specific health. Completion of your women’s wellness visit may consist of a routine physical that may include blood pressure check, breast exam, pelvic exam and urinalysis. The screenings listed below may also be included.
Cervical Cancer Screening
This screening is used to detect cervical cancer as well as identify health conditions such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a major contributor to cervical cancer. The following recommendations are taken from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF): (Cervical Cancer: Screening, 2012).
|Women 21 to 65 (Pap Smear) or 30-65 (in combo with HPV testing)||The USPSTF recommends screening for cervical cancer in women age 21 to 65 years with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years.|
|Women who have had a hysterectomy||The USPSTF recommends against screening for cervical cancer in women who have had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and who do not have a history of a high-grade precancerous lesion (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia).|
This recommendation statement applies to women who have a cervix, regardless of sexual history. This recommendation statement does not apply to women who have received a diagnosis of a high-grade precancerous cervical lesion or cervical cancer, women with in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol, or women who are immunocompromised (such as those who are HIV positive).
Breast Cancer Screening
The following recommendations are taken from the USPSTF guidelines: (Breast Cancer: Screening, 2016).
|Women aged 50 to 74 years||The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years.|
|Women aged 40 to 49 years||The decision to start screening mammography in women prior to age 50 years should be an individual one. Women who place a higher value on the potential benefit than the potential harms may choose to begin biennial screening between the ages of 40 and 49 years. Please discuss with your provider if you have concerns about screening prior to age 50.|
These recommendations apply to asymptomatic women aged 40 years or older who do not have preexisting breast cancer or a previously diagnosed high-risk breast lesion and who are not at high risk for breast cancer because of a known underlying genetic mutation (such as a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation or other familial breast cancer syndrome) or a history of chest radiation at a young age.
We are all aware of the challenges of trying to coordinate our busy schedules with those of our various health care professionals. However, there are resources available to help you navigate your way to good health, and, believe it or not, they are available through your health insurance provider. Search for a network provider near you, or contact UMR at
(888) 438-9135 if you need further assistance.
1Breast Cancer: Screening. (2016, January). Retrieved from U.S Preventive Services Task Force: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/breast-cancer-screening1?ds=1&s=
2Cervical Cancer: Screening. (2012, March). Retrieved from U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/cervical-cancer-screening?ds=1&s=Pap%20Smear