Almost every day, there is a story in the news about getting early screenings for one health issue or another. Surely we all want to be healthy and want the best for our families, but the reality is, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, a dental or doctor appointment can be costly and frightening. April is the month to focus on healthy living, and it’s not as dismal as you think. There are ways to save on healthcare and to find free screenings and healthcare options! Here are the screenings you may need, who needs them, how frequently, and how to save on them:
The Women’s Health Organization says that getting a mammogram (a low-dose x-ray of your breasts), is advised for women ages 40 and over, every two years. Women younger than that are advised to consult their doctor and may need to have yearly screenings if they have a family history of cancer or a health history that would possibly lend itself to problems. You may also request a mammogram if you suspect a problem or find anything suspicious in a self-exam.
How to save on a mammogram
Self-exams are recommended for all women, and they are free since you do them yourself. (To find out how to do a self-exam, click here. Self-exams do not replace a mammogram!) The Susan G. Komen foundation has a mission to supply low-income women with mammograms, and you can click here to see if there is an affiliate near you. Every October, many centers offer mammograms at reduced rates through the FDA. To find a clinic, you can click here. Lastly, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program offers low-cost and reduced-rate screenings for low-income and uninsured patients. You can find a center here.
2. Colon cancer screening
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends screening for colon cancer for those who are between 50 and 75 years old. Persons younger than that should ask their physician for specific guidelines, especially if family history plays a part in their concern. The main test is called a ‘high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT)’, and there are two other more advanced tests including a colonoscopy that are recommended as part of additional screening. The FOBT is recommended every year for those at risk or those in the age group above. The CDC reports that as many as 60% of colon cancer fatalities could have been prevented by screening!
How to save on a colon screening
The CDC offers low-cost screenings and assistance with colon cancer screenings through the Colorectal Cancer Control Program, and you can find the locations for participating places here.
3. Pap smear
Women who are 21 and over and sexually active need to have a Pap smear. In 2012, the guidelines were changed from every year to every 1-3 years for women with no additional risk factors (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Even if you have received the HPV vaccine, you still need to be aware of when you need a Pap smear and testing for HPV. The tests help determine early detection of cervical cancer or other forms of gynecological issues.
How to save on Pap smears
There is a great list of resources sorted by state to find affordable Pap smear locations here, courtesy of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Additionally, if you are in Orange County or Los Angeles, you may be able to receive a free well-woman exam.
4. Prostate screenings
Men can be screened for early detection of prostate cancer, but they should consult their doctor on an individual basis, as there are no current guidelines for this protocol. According to the American Cancer Society, young men are most likely to benefit from a screening, but the most recent studies have been conflicting. Certain risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and family history can contribute to the need to be screened.
How to save money on prostate screenings
Zero: The Project to End Prostate Cancer offers free screenings, and you can find a location here. The Prostate Conditions Education Council also offers events and screenings, and you can find out more about them here.
Disclaimer: All information above is intended for resource only, and all readers should consult their doctor for individual plans and screening timelines. This information is not intended as a professional medical opinion, and all should use their own judgement regarding their personal health. The are additional tests like blood pressure and cholesterol that are not listed here but should be regularly checked.
This is a post from Grace A. from Medford, Oregon.