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Screening Tests for Women

  • What you need to ask before getting an imaging test

    Know why the test is being done, and how it will guide your treatment. If your doctor were to recommend that you have a computed tomography (CT) scan or x-ray, would you question whether you really needed it or if it’s worth the risks? Most people don’t ask—they just assume that the decision to have […]

  • Breast cancer screening: Options beyond the mammogram

    The mammogram remains the foundation of breast cancer screening, but variations on this test can improve detection for some women. The mammogram isn’t a perfect test, but it’s the best one we have right now for identifying breast cancers early, which is why it remains the cornerstone of breast cancer detection. “For the woman at […]

  • Latest thinking on mammograms for older women

    Latest thinking on mammograms for older women

    New evidence shows the tests may benefit women older than age 75. Just as it is for younger women, routine breast cancer screening for older women is debated. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against routine mammograms for women 75 and older at average risk of breast cancer. But the American Cancer Society […]

  • Can women get away with less frequent bone density screenings?

    Can women get away with less frequent bone density screenings?

    A study by researchers at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife questions whether older adults might be getting bone mineral density (BMD) tests too often. The study of 492 women and 310 men (average age 75) found that having a second scan four years after the initial baseline test didn’t provide any additional information on fracture risk that […]

  • Younger women get inadequate treatment for heart disease, survey finds

    Younger women with heart disease may be unaware of their condition and may not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack, according to a report in the March 2015 issue of Circulation. The finding came from a survey of women under 55 who had survived heart attacks. Researchers from the Translational Research Investigating Underlying Disparities […]

  • The top 5 tests you probably don’t need, from the October 2013 Harvard Health Letter

    The top 5 tests you probably don’t need, from the October 2013 Harvard Health Letter

    Some health tests, such as colonoscopies and cholesterol checks, are wise preventive measures. Others aren’t, and may be unnecessary, reports the October 2013 Harvard Health Letter. “I think we’re doing too much screening,” says geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Screening means checking seeming healthy individuals for hidden disease. Sometimes it […]

  • Mammograms identify heart disease risk

    Mammograms identify heart disease risk

    Research We’re Watching Image: Frans Rombout/Thinkstock When specks of calcium appear in ductal tissue on mammograms, they can indicate a small cancer. But when calcifications are found in the breast arteries, they haven’t been a cause for concern. However, in recent years, physicians have begun to suspect that arterial calcifications in the breast, like calcifications […]

  • Top screenings to avoid cancer

    Talk to your doctor to nail down your cancer risk, and check this list to see which tests may help save your life. Images: Monkey Business Images/Thinkstock Recommendations for cancer screenings sometimes change, and it can be confusing about which tests you need and when. “It’s best to talk to your doctor about your cancer […]

  • The family history of cancer

    If cancer runs in your family, there is much you can do to recognize your potential risk and catch the disease before it strikes. Image: filipefrazao/Thinkstock You may remember stories of your father’s military service and your mother’s hometown, but how much do you know about your family’s medical history? In particular, do you know […]

  • Why isn’t there a more comfortable mammogram procedure?

    Ask the doctor Q. I have been smashed, squashed, pulled, and tugged annually for 25 years. Why isn’t there a better way to take a mammogram? A. We hear you! Compression mammography has been the “gold standard” for decades for one reason — it works. Flattening the breast makes ductal tissue easier to distinguish and […]

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