22 Medical Tests Every Woman Should Have and When

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11. Diabetes
> When to get tested: 45 and over every three years

About 10.5% of the U.S. population has diabetes — that’s more than 34 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 7.3 million don’t know they have the condition, which if left uncontrolled can lead to blindness, kidney failure, limb amputation, and cardiovascular disease. One in three adults have prediabetes, and most are not aware or have never been told they have the condition. Just over 9% of women 18 and over had diabetes as of 2018, up from 8.5% the year before, according to data from the CDC.

There are several blood sugar tests that can confirm a diabetes diagnosis. The standard test for the illness is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which measures the average blood sugar levels over a period of two to three months. Screening is recommended at three-year intervals beginning at age 45, unless a person is at higher risk for diabetes because they are overweight, have a family history of the condition, or do not exercise.

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12. Body fat percentage
> When to get tested: Every few months

Body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, is the standard doctors use to diagnose obesity or if a person is overweight. BMI, however, has limitations. It does not take into account how much of the weight is actually fat. Too much body fat can increase the risk of health issues such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and even depression. Excessive abdominal fat may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.

Women tend to store more fat than men. By 25 years of age, for example, women with normal weight have nearly twice the body of men with normal weight. There are various reasons for this difference, including female hormones. Estrogen alone reduces a woman’s ability to burn energy after eating.

A more comprehensive body fat calculator takes into account age, gender, weight, height, as well as skinfold measurements of the thighs, triceps, and suprailium (above the upper bone of the hip). The healthy range for women is between 10% and 31%, depending on age, level of physical activity, among other factors.

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13. Colonoscopy
> When to get tested: Between 50 and 75, or after 45 if at risk

One of the most common ways to screen for colorectal cancer, the second leading cancer killer in the country among both men and women, is a colonoscopy. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults ages 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. It is recommended that people who do not have an increased risk of colorectal cancer have the test every 10 years.

One in 25 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Between 2012 and 2016, there were a total of 335,600 new cases and 123,282 deaths among women in the United States.

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14. Fecal occult blood test
> When to get tested: After 50

The yearly stool test is one of the tests to screen for colorectal cancer. The test, also called the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT), uses the chemical guaiac to detect blood in the stool. The test is sometimes used to detect colorectal cancer at early stages. The test may also indicate ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease.

The National Cancer Institute recommends that people get regular screenings for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If the FOBT test is positive, a doctor may recommend a colonoscopy. A FOBT is recommended every year, while a stool DNA test, which checks for blood and genetic changes that may be signs of cancer, should be repeated every three years.

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15. Skin cancer
> When to get tested: Once a year after 35

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. More than two people die of skin cancer in the country every hour, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people get a full skin exam once a year in order to check for signs of skin cancer. The exam, which should be conducted by a dermatologist, looks for unusual or suspicious moles or markings on the skin.

Nearly 78,000 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the U.S. every year between 2012 and 2016, according to the CDC. About 32,000 of each year’s new skin cancer cases were in women. Skin cancer risk factors include fair skin, sunburns, exposure to radiation, and living in high-altitude climates where the sunlight is stronger.