Diseases do not just happen, usually changes begin to occur gradually and latently in our body systems. Symptoms and signs of diseases manifest when the body defense systems are greatly outnumbered or have lost the battle of protecting you. This post discusses routine screening tests that can help women stay a step ahead of diseases.

Why Should I Screen?

Screening and diagnostic tests affords one the benefit of early detection, treatment, and prevention. Screening puts one a step ahead of diseases by assessing your risk for future medical problems. Knowledge of one’s health status will help them make informed choices about their health and life in general. It encourages one to make important lifestyle and dietary modifications, which also includes updating their vaccinations.

By definition, screening is the presumptive identification of unrecognized disease in an apparently healthy, asymptomatic individual/population by means of tests, examinations or other procedures that
can be applied rapidly and easily to the target population. This means that one can appear physically well but be internally unhealthy. You don’t have to wait for disease to manifest before you go for a medical checkup.

Why Screen Women?

One of the tools to prevent the high incidence of diseases and mortality rates amongst women in Africa is by embracing prevention.
Some preventive tools include:

  1. Health Education: Including first aid skills.
  2. Routine Tests
  3. Screening
  4. Vaccination
    Also, women are highly influential, and in addition can encourage fellow women, the men in their lives and their children to also seek prevention.

Important Screening Tests for Women

Below is a list of important screening tests available to women across various age groups.

  1. Breast Screening:
    Breast cancer is the leading cancer affecting women of African descent. It claims thousands of lives annually, especially given our weak health systems in Africa. However, early detection is key to survival. One tool for early detection is screening. I know “it is not your portion”, however it cannot be merely wished away. Screening, plus lifestyle modifications
    should be taken seriously, especially if one has a family history of breast cancers or any female-related (gynaecological) cancers.

    Types of Breast Screening.

a. Self Breast Examination
Recommendation: Monthly. Best done from 5 days after your period. At that time, the breasts are less lumpy and less tender, reducing the chances of a false positive examination. If you no longer have periods, it is advised to pick a date monthly that best works for you. This could be the first or last day of the month.
b. Breast Ultrasound
Recommendation: Annually (Yearly). For women below the age of 40.
c. Mammogram
Recommendation: Annually. For women aged 40 years and above.

  1. Cervical Cancer screening
    Cervical cancer is cancer affecting the cervix (Neck of the womb). This is the most ironical of cancers, because while it is nearly 100% preventable, it is the second commonest cancer affecting African women. The major risk factor is a sexually transmitted infection called HPV- Human Papilloma Virus. It is noteworthy that HPV can also be transmitted via sexual contact, not necessarily penetration.

    Three Pillars of Cervical Cancer Prevention:
  1. STI screening; HIV, VDRL (Syphilis Gonorrhea), Hepatitis B&C
  2. Dental screening
  3. Eye Screening
  4. Diabetes
  5. Hypertension
  6. Do not forget your vaccines– HPV vaccine, Hepatitis B Vaccine, Tetanus Toxoids.
  7. General tests include: Urine Analysis, Liver Function tests, Kidney Function test, Stool analysis

    What do these tests help you discover? 

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