> When to get tested: Every five years after 35
Thyroid problems, which are screened for with a blood test, are caused by either too many or too few thyroid hormones produced by the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. The thyroid plays a role in many vital body functions such as heart rate and metabolism, and it helps regulate mood, muscle strength, body weight, energy levels, and cholesterol, to name a few.
One in eight women will have a dysfunctional thyroid during her life, which can cause menstrual problems, difficulty getting pregnant, as well as health problems once a woman is pregnant. Women who have gone through radiotherapy or have anemia or type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk for thyroid disease.
More women than men have thyroid disease, including thyroid cancer, which can be detected with a biopsy or imaging tests, including an MRI, an ultrasound, a radioiodine scan, or a chest X-ray. About 35,000 women are diagnosed with thyroid cancer a year, and 1,100 women die from the disease.
17. Lung cancer
> When to get tested: Between 55 and 74
Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer among both men and women in the United States. It’s difficult to detect in early stages. Partially as a result, more than half of the patients die within a year of being diagnosed. Though in general more men than women are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, young women between 30 and 49 have higher rates of lung cancer than men at the same age group, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Cancer.
A low-dose computed tomography (a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT) is the only lung cancer screening test recommended by the CDC. Asymptomatic people with a history of smoking and people who are between 55 and 80 should be screened every year, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
> When to get tested: If symptoms last more than 2 weeks
Women are almost twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with clinical depression, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. One in eight women will experience depression at least once in her lifetime. Postpartum depression, which is depression in women after they have given birth, is common. Between 10% and 15% of new mothers are diagnosed with it, and between 30% and 70% of them feel symptoms for a year or more, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Depression screening typically involves questionnaires, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale for medical patients, or the Geriatric Depression Scale in older adults. The new guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all people age 18 and older be screened for depression.
19. Follicle-stimulating hormone test
> When to get tested: If having trouble getting pregnant
The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test is a simple blood test used to find any possible causes for certain reproductive system symptoms. The follicle-stimulating hormone is responsible for the growth of ovarian follicles that produce estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries and help maintain menstrual cycles. The test measures the level of FSH present in a woman’s blood.
The test is used to assess infertility problems, check for possible reasons for irregular menstrual cycles, and help with diagnosing disorders of the pituitary gland or diseases involving the ovaries. A doctor, therefore, may order a FSH test if a woman has been unable to get pregnant after 12 months of trying, has an irregular menstrual cycle, or if a woman’s periods have stopped.
20. High blood pressure
> When to get tested: At least every two years after 18
High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, which contributes to a third of deaths among women in the U.S., according to the American College of Cardiology. Health organizations released new guidelines in 2017 about normal blood pressure, lowering the hypertension diagnosis level to 130/80 from the previous threshold of 150/80 for people older than 65 and 140/90 for those younger than 65.
High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because symptoms don’t show up until vital organs are already damaged.
People can check their blood pressure regularly with home blood pressure monitors. Otherwise, the recommendation is for people with no history of hypertension to get their blood pressure checked at least every two years or every year if their blood pressure is borderline high. Women in menopause may have to check their blood pressure even more often. The condition is linked to a 50% increase in the risk of developing hypertension.