6/10/02 - Five Best Tests for Women

You may find yourself skipping some tests or health tips the doctor gives you, but there are five tests that no woman should ever pass up. Just a few minutes in the doctors office, could mean earlier detection of many diseases women can get.

OB/GYN Dr. Tami Williams says, "These tests can definitely save your life." That's why Janice Quade is at the doctor for her yearly exam. "I'm a mother and a wife and I have a family at home to take care of," Janice says. "We have to take care of ourselves to take care of the ones we love."

Taking care of yourself starts at an early age. One of the first tests of womanhood is an annual pap smear. Those should start when you're 18-years-old. Cholesterol levels aren't usually on the top of a young woman's mind, but they should be. You should start getting your cholesterol checked when you're 25. The best way to check for breast cancer is to do monthly check-ups, and to get mammograms. Your first one should be a baseline mammogram when you're 35. Yearly mammograms should start after you're 40. Every woman should also get a bone density test done at the onset of menopause. It only takes a few minutes for nurses to do a scan of your lower back and left hip. Don't forget colonoscopies. Women should start getting colonoscopies at age 50

Your family history plays an important role. If you have a family history of any diseases, talk to your doctor about getting these tests earlier. There's no history of any illnesses in Janice's family, but to her that doesn't matter. "I just feel it's important I need to be here and if we find something we'll take care of it and go from there," Janice says. A step Dr. Williams says every woman should take. She says, "Disease prevention is much easier if a disease is caught early."

The good news is, insurance usually covers all five tests.