Life today has many demands on us, and women are especially adept at putting themselves last when it comes to their health needs. This is not ideal.

Astonishingly, 26 per cent of women have admitted they have delayed going to the doctor, mainly due to lack of time, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. This is particularly damaging since many serious diseases and illnesses that affect women have the best results when treated early.

Women are 50 per cent more likely than men to suffer from depression. Cervical cancer and breast cancer can be symptomless in early stages. Approximately 10 per cent of women in Australia suffer with endometriosis with many being undiagnosed. These stats may be shocking, but it’s even more shocking when put into context; women still avoid the doctors as they are too busy, don’t consider themselves ill or they just deal with their symptoms as a part of their life. And it shouldn’t be that way.

As a GP, I encourage women to have a check-up, at least annually. The examinations and investigations that I do vary considerably depending on life circumstances and age. If a problem is detected early it is generally much easier to manage and treat.

There are some government screening programs in place that women should definitely take advantage of, designed to detect early/pre-cancerous conditions.

These include:

• The Cervical Cancer Screening Programme. This is changing in December 2017 to an HPV test from the age of 25 and performed every 5 years.

• Breast Screening. This can be arranged through Breast Screen (call 1800 354 209) from ages 50-74 years (although you can start screening from 40 )

• Bowel screen. The Government send out kits to screen for bowel cancer from the age of 50.


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