Monday, July 11, 2011

Women's Health Check-Up

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Medical science is advancing every day, helping us prevent the worst-- but several diseases are still getting the best of us.

1 in 2 sexually active people will contract HPV in their lifetime. Some strands can lead to cancer and should be identified as soon as possible.

However, a recent study suggests HPV tests are a waste of money.

MSNBC reported doctors are testing patients more frequently for human papillomavirus than guidelines suggest. While attempting to control outbreaks in patients, the HPV test gives doctors very little information about their health.

With more than 40 strands of HPV, only a few are known to cause cancer-- typically in the cervix or mouth. Others can produce genital warts, while some are completely symptomless with no health consequences.

HPV tests administered by a physician can cost $30 or more, with no real indication of the effect the sexually transmitted infection is having on the patient. A pap smear is still the only sure way to know whether a woman has cervical cancer.

Unnecessary charges are piling up at the doctor's office and women might be over-spending on mammograms as well.

U.S. News and World Report explained one size does not fit all when screening for breast cancer. "The timing and frequency of mammography to detect breast cancer is a decision best customized for each woman, based on such factors as age and breast density, new research suggests."

While deciding how often to get tested, the patient and physician should consider how high her risk. Breast density and family history can help determine whether a woman is more likely to develop breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends women over 40 get tested every year. Other organizations suggest women over 50 get tested every 2 years. But recent studies stress preventative treatment should be more personal, taking multiple factors into account.

While women work tirelessly to protect their breasts, many don't realize they are at higher risk for heart disease. And according to the Boston Globecardiac tests are still missing warning signs in women.  

The number one female killer, "one in 30 women’s deaths in 2007 was from breast cancer, compared to about 1 in 3 from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association."

Not only are women's symptoms different from men's but women are more likely to die the same year as their first heart attack. When it comes to understanding heart disease and gender, the lack of understanding keeps female fatalities sky high.

So remember to stay informed, ask questions and keep what little autonomy you can in a paper dress because while doctors are focusing on our lady parts, they might be missing other maladies with very grave consequences. 

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