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October is breast cancer awareness month

published on 11-12-2008

Calling All Girls

"I never regret it when I do it, but I always regret it when I don't."
--Devin McDonald Vinson, 37, Portland, OR

October was Breast cancer awareness month. In light of that fact, it is time for all women over 40 to consider having a mammogram. It’s also a good time to look at health maintenance for women.

For women under 40, annual visits to their primary care physician include updating their medical and surgical history, talking about their medications and supplements and having an annual Pap smear and breast exam. Since Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in women, checking blood pressure, talking about smoke cessation, if applicable and addressing physical activity are also parts of this visit. Having labs done that may be appropriate for age, medical diagnosis, and family history and updating immunizations are also included. Flu vaccine is offered at this time of year. Also updates in Tdap, also know as tetanus shots are needed every ten years. The new tetanus immunizations also cover pertussis or whooping cough. Those who received that vaccine as children are no longer protected from whooping cough. Cases of whopping cough had been seen in recent years, and so it is a good idea to be protected from it.

For postmenopausal women discussion of menopausal symptoms and how to treat those can also take place at this annual exam. Mammograms are recommended yearly for women over 40. Bone mineral density screening is recommended for all women older than 50 years of age. This should begin sooner in women who have experienced fractures or have been surgically menopausal for a number of years. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D levels may be added to routine chemistry screening, lipid screening, screening for anemia, and sometimes thyroid screening. A colonoscopy will be recommended for those over 50. In addition to the above immunization recommendations, a one time pneumococcal vaccine after age 55 years is recommended, and Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, is recommended for those ages 60 and above.

So if you have not visited your primary care provider in a year or more, now is a good time for you to pick up the phone and call to make that appointment.

ruger_pic_ted_picture_150To a long and healthy life,

Dr. Jane Ruger, M.D.

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