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We’ve all heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While this idea is relevant to many parts of our lives, it is particularly meaningful to our health. There are many important ways we can prevent health-related problems, including eating right and exercising regularly. One of the most effective ways to protect our health is through regular health screenings.  

“Regular health screenings and checkups are vital to a healthy lifestyle,” said Lynda Lachance, MD, at Forest City Family Care. “By taking a proactive approach to your health that includes yearly screenings, you and your doctor can identify future health risks, such as cancer, heart disease and other underlying issues before they escalate. Screenings also can encourage those who are healthy to continue or improve their habits for better health.”

Today, health plans cover a range of important preventative health screenings, and covered individuals can receive many regular screenings at little or no cost.

Common recommended screenings for men and women that are covered by health insurance plans include: 

•Annual Wellness Visit: It is important to see your physician once a year. This visit allows your doctor to check your vitals, such as temperature, blood pressure, and red and white blood cell counts, and monitor your overall health;

•Cardiovascular Screening Blood Tests: Cardiovascular screening tests offer insight on your cholesterol levels, which can help your doctor determine your risk for a heart attack or other heart diseases; 

•Diabetes Screening Test: A diabetes screening test, or blood glucose test, is recommended for anyone over age 45 and should be completed every three years. Glucose levels can indicate if you’re at risk for diabetes;

•Colorectal Cancer Screening: Beginning at age 50, or earlier if advocated by a physician, a yearly colorectal cancer screening is recommended. Screenings may consist of a colonoscopy, high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, or a sigmoidoscopy. Each screening tests for precancerous polyps so they can be removed before becoming cancerous.

•Screening for Depression: Physicians often use a health questionnaire to help patients describe their emotional status, sleep patterns, appetite and concentration to identify depression. Depression screening is important because studies have shown that depression can negatively impact your overall health and is linked to a range of health concerns including chronic pain; 

Additional screenings recommended for women include: 

•Pelvic Examination: Annual pelvic exams can identify a number of health problems in women, including ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, uterine fibroids and early stages of cancer;

•Pap Tests: A pap smear test is recommended for women starting at age 21 until age 65. A pap test will determine your risk for cervical cancer; 

•Mammography Screening: Mammograms are X-ray screenings that will identify developing breast changes or cancer. It is recommended that women 50 to 74 should complete a screening every two years; 

•Bone Mass Measurements: Bone mass measurements can indicate your risk for osteoporosis by measuring your bone mineral density. It is recommended every 18 to 24 months for all women over the age of 65, unless monitoring active treatment for osteoporosis.

An additional test recommended for men is a prostate cancer screening. Prostate cancer screenings may consist of two tests: a digital rectum exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The DRE can indicate the size of the prostate and abnormalities, and the PSA test will measure the amount of PSAs in the blood. Higher levels of PSA and large prostates can indicate prostate cancer.

Rutherford Regional Health System is offering several upcoming screenings including: 

•A free community prostate screening and PSA blood test given by Dr. Glover Little of Rutherford Urology at the Cancer Resource Center (in Forest City beside Belk) on Wednesday, September 17, from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.  Pre-registration is required; please call 828-245-4596 to schedule an appointment. 

•A free community skin cancer screening with Dr. Joe Godfrey at the Cancer Resource Center (in Forest City beside Belk) on Thursday, September 4, from 3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.  For both adults and teens.  Pre-registration is required; please call 828-245-4596 to schedule an appointment.  

•A free glucose screening at the Rutherford Regional Health System booth during the 10th annual Prime of Life Festival. This year’s festival is held at the Foundation Performing Arts & Conference Center on Tuesday, September 16, from 9:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. Pre-registration is not required.  

For more information about these services, please contact Rutherford Regional Health System at 828-286-5511 or visit our website at www.MyRutherfordRegional.com.

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