August 29, 2019
The big 5-0. The half-century birthday is a big milestone in a woman’s life.
It's also the perfect time to begin paying extra attention to your health. Even if you eat healthy and exercise daily, your risk for certain diseases increases as you age.
Here are the health screenings that are recommended for women in their 50s:
There are different views on when women should start scheduling mammograms to detect breast cancer. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends mammograms to start at 50 years of age, many institutions, like the Mayo Clinic, offer them to patients beginning at age 40.
If you are turning 50 and you have never had a mammogram, you should start now.
Like men of similar age, women between the ages of 50 and 75 also should get screened for colorectal cancer. Discuss with your doctor the different screening options available.
This includes checking a stool sample for blood on an annual basis. A flexible sigmoidoscopy, which only examines the lower colon, should be done every five years. A colonoscopy should be completed every 10 years.
The USPSTF doesn’t support regular thyroid screening at this time. But Harvard Health advises that you still talk to your doctor about the benefits of a thyroid-stimulating (TSH) blood test if you have developed symptoms of hypothyroidism or have any risk factors for thyroid disease.
Bone density scans for osteoporosis also are recommended at this time if you have a high fracture risk. Otherwise you won’t need one until you are 65 years old.
Once you hit age 55, if you have a smoking history of a pack a day, currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years, then your doctor probably will suggest a computed tomography (CT) scan for lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
If you are considered at risk for other health issues like diabetes, hepatitis C or the human immunodeficiency virus, you also should be screened for them. Ask your doctor about the screenings and tests that are recommended people of your age, gender and risk factors. Here is a helpful checklist from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.