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Bone Mass Measurements aka Bone Density Scan

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm. A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs.


Who should get a bone density scan?

Recommended (DEXA) screening for osteoporosis at age 65 in women and men at age 70 with no risk factors.  Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss.


Risk factors for osteoporotic fractures include: a family history of osteoporosis, previous fractures, white race, dementia, poor nutrition, cigarette smoking, alcoholism, low weight and body mass index, estrogen deficiency, early menopause (i.e., before age 45) or prolonged premenopausal amenorrhea, long-term low calorie intake, history of falls, and inadequate physical activity.


How often should I get a bone density scan?

If you are taking medication for osteoporosis, expect to have a bone density test every 1 to 2 years. Even if you don't have osteoporosis, your doctor may suggest that you get a bone density test every 2 years, especially for women during or after menopause.

Cervical Cancer Screening vs. Pap Smear Test

For both tests a doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix. However, the Pap smear test used to look for abnormal cells in the cervix, while the cervical screening test looks for HPV infection. The new test for HPV can identify women who could be at risk of cervical cancer earlier than the Pap test could.


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.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Starting at 50 years old, several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. The Task Force outlines the following colorectal cancer screening strategies. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. 


Stool Tests

- The guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. It is done once a year. For this test, you receive a test kit from your health care provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to the doctor or a lab, where the stool samples are checked for the presence of blood.

- The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool. It is also done once a year in the same way as a gFOBT.

The FIT-DNA test (also referred to as the stool DNA test) combines the FIT with a test that detects altered DNA in the stool. For this test, you collect an entire bowel movement and send it to a lab, where it is checked for cancer cells. It is done once every one or three years.


Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

For this test, the doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. The doctor checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.

How often: Every 5 years, or every 10 years with a FIT every year.


Colonoscopy

This is similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor uses a longer, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. During the test, the doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers. Colonoscopy also is used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.

How often: Every 10 years (for people who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer).


CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer screen for the doctor to analyze.

How often: Every 5 years.


How Do I Know Which Screening Test Is Right for Me?

There is no single “best test” for any person. Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each test, and how often to be tested. Which test to use depends on—

Your preferences.

Your medical condition.

The likelihood that you will get the test.

The resources available for testing and follow-up.

Glaucoma Screening

Glaucoma screening is often done with tests that look at changes in the optic nerve, changes in the pressure of the fluid in the eye, and changes in visual fields.

 If you are younger than 40 and have no known risk factors for glaucoma , the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that you have a complete eye exam every 5 to 10 years. This includes tests that check for glaucoma. The AAO suggests more frequent routine eye exams as you age.


What If I Have Diabetes?

Because glaucoma often doesn't have symptoms in the early stages, it's important to get regular eye exams. This is especially important if you have any risk factors, including diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with diabetes should get a dilated eye exam every year.

Mammogram Screening

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. Doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.


When Is The Right Age To Start Screening?

Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.

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