Screening is an important procedure in the provision of health care because it involves early identification of individuals at highest risk of a disease or individuals asymptomatic to a certain disease condition to allow timely health care intervention. Women are a vulnerable group because the social construction of gender predisposes them to numerous risks. As a result of this burden of numerous risks, health provision among women is usually given much attention and emphasis.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lays out guidelines on the screening tests for women as suggested by the Office on Women’s Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2013). It is worth noting that these guidelines are not ideal for every woman; hence, personalization based on the discretion of a qualified health care practitioner is imperative. Common screening tests for women arise from the common health indicators that link a high disease burden to a particular condition. As a result, the following are the common screening tests for women:
- Cervical, breast and colorectal cancers are considered to be of high priority among women. Pap test and the HPV DNA tests are commonly used to screen for cervical cancer (Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), 2013). Mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging are used to screen for breast cancer. Since women are at a high risk of colorectal cancer, it is necessary that they undergo a colonoscopy after very decade is recommended.
- In the contemporary world characterized by early maturation and early engagement in sexual activities, sexually transmitted diseases are of great concern. Hence, the need to perform screening for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV among women, and especially among pregnant women, is imperative (Schuiling & Likis, 2013).
- As women grow older, their metabolism changes and are at a higher risk of lifestyle diseases, for example, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis (Beckmann et al., 2010).
Apparently, there is minuscule categorical literature on how screening in younger women differs from that of older women. However, differences have been pointed out with regard to initiation age of screening, the procedures to be applied, and intervals for screening tests (Senie, 2013). Each condition has its specific recommendations as indicated below.
Pap tests are effective for women as young as 21 years. But the HPV test is recommended from the age of 30 years because younger women are able to fight and suppress the HPV virus. In areas like England, the lower age limit for cervical cancer screening was raised from 20 to 25 years.
Screening tests have not been shown to have beneficial health outcomes among younger women in comparison to older women (Wilson & Macmillan, 2014). Younger women tend to present with symptoms of breast cancer while older women are likely to be diagnosed based on screen detection. Due to a lack of sensitivity among the screening tests for breast cancer among younger women (30-39 years), triple assessment using ultrasound, mammography and fine needle aspiration biopsy is more accurate than using either one method.
First, employing such differences helps in the provision of relevant treatment. Provision of healthcare becomes effective and efficient due to the application of appropriate procedures to a suitable. Therefore, the health care services are characterized by affordable and necessary procedures, only.
In addition, the differences in screening tests have implications for research because specific and sensitive tests for the younger women are yet to be identified.
The list of screening tests that women go through is very long. However, due to increased risk and associated burden of disease, cancer, STDs, and lifestyle screening tests are common to improve women’s quality of life. The screening tests differ by age due to differences in physiological statuses between younger and older women. However, there is need for more scientific information on disparity in women screening tests based on age, and the associated underlying rationale.
Beckmann, C., Ling, F., Barzansky, B., Herbert, W., Laube, D., & Smith, R. (2010). Obstetrics and Gynecology (6th ed.). Baltimore: Wolters Kluwer.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Cervical Cancer Screening in Women Ages 30 and Older. Web.
Schuiling, K., & Likis, F. (2013). Women’s Gynecologic Health (2nd ed.). Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Senie, R. (2013). Epidemiology of Women’s Health. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). Screening Tests and Vaccines. Web.
Wilson, A., & Macmillan, R. (2014). The role of imaging in breast diagnosis including screening and excision of impalpable lesions. In. M. Dixon (Ed.). Breast Surgery: A Companion to Specialist Surgical Practice (5th ed.). New York: Elsevier.