By Lori Hudson Bertrand DC, RN
Part 1 of 3 Prevention-
You might realize when you’re getting older when…
We joke about getting older. The way we feel, the sudden appearance of wrinkles or even how inflexible we have gotten! But the truth is, our bodies go through many changes mentally, emotionally, and physically as we age. I believe it’s safe to say that we all desire to feel better, look our best, and live life out to its potential. Part of looking and feeling your best involves taking preventative steps. Health screens and examinations are recommended for individuals in every stage of life. The following is a guide for individuals to use in each stage of life. Depending on your family history or medical background, some exams may need to be preformed earlier in life, screened more often, or even include specific tests that may not be listed below.
<40 years of age-every 3 years
>40 years of age-every year
Breast cancer screenings (women)
<40 years of age-examination by physician every 3 years
>40 every year- examination by physician
Yearly mammograms beginning at 40 years of age
Cervical Cancer screenings (women)
Pelvic exam and Pap screens done at least once every 3 years
Those with a history of a hysterectomy are encouraged to have a cervical cancer screening if surgery was for treatment or cervical cancer or cervical pre-cancer
Women older than 65-70 years of age with 3 or more normal Pap tests and no prior history of an abnormal test within the last 10 years are encouraged to consult their doctor about continuing regularly scheduled cervical cancer screenings.
Testicular Cancer (men)
Prostate (men starting at 50 years of age)
PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) yearly
DRE (Digital rectal examination) yearly for:
African Americans 45 years of age or older, or with a family history of this cancer
Individuals with health concerns or based on healthcare provider
Colorectal Cancer (men and women starting at 50 years of age)
Colonoscopy including follow up screenings every 3-5 years-dependent on findings or flexible sigmoidoscopy preformed every 3-5 years
Oral Cancer (men and women)
Yearly, preformed in the form of dental or medical check-ups
Skin Cancer (men and women)
Clinical examination yearly
Frequency is controversial- a common recommendation is every 1 to 2 years
Individuals at risk- postmenopausal women, fractures after 50 years of age
Yearly exams with test for glaucoma
In addition these health screenings the following lifestyle modifications are encouraged:
- Implement regular exercise into your life
- Avoid smoking
- Alcohol in moderation
- Diet consisting of various fruits, vegetables and other foods high in antioxidants
- Diet high in fiber, low in cholesterol and fat. Salt sodium and sugar should be used in moderation
We all come from different walks of life, have a medical history and, a family history of various conditions. It’s important to contribute to your health on a daily basis through physical and mental exercise, eating right, and spiritual growth. But, I challenge you to look to the future and take the appropriate preventative steps that are unique to your health. Don’t put off any longer that appointment or health screen. Remember there are things beyond the surface that we are not always aware of. While some of the physical changes that occur with age are inevitable, a heightened awareness of your health provided by health screens can equip you with the right tools throughout life.
DEFINE’s senior instructor and anatomy specialist, Lori Hudson Bertrand D.C., R.N. is a doctor in chiropractic and registered nurse. Her love for helping people through education about anatomy and physiology drives her to continue to share her experiences and knowledge with others as they pursue their journey towards health and restoration!
Information about recommended health screens and examinations used in this post is found in Taylor, Lillis, LeMone, Lynn, Fundamentals of Nursing, (Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2008), 449-452.