Prevention is about taking steps to avoid illness and to find disease early. An important part of preventing illness is receiving health screenings appropriate for you.
Screening helps doctors identify conditions in their early stages, when treatment is more likely to succeed and to cost you less. Health care providers can also help guide you to support for healthy lifestyle changes, like nutrition counseling and help with weight management.
The number of adults in Washington state who have received recommended screenings and preventive care varies depending on the type of screening, but it can be less than half. That means that many Washington residents are not getting the screenings and preventive care that they need to keep them healthy.
Preventive care also means that children and adolescents are seen regularly for well-care visits to ensure that they remain healthy during this critical period in their lives.
What can patients do?
- Plan and get regular preventive care visits with your doctor.
- If you are a woman aged 50 to 74, mammograms to detect breast cancer are recommended every other year.
- If you are age 50 or older, talk with your doctor about testing for colon or colorectal cancer, then follow through with getting the recommended test. This applies to both women and men.
- If you are a woman age 21 to 65, have a Pap test for cervical cancer at least every three years, or on a schedule recommended by your doctor.
- If you are a sexually active woman up through age 25, get tested for chlamydia at least once a year.
- Everyone age 6 months and older is advised to get an annual flu shot.
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What should your doctor do?
- Offer regular preventive care visits.
- Offer information about recommended screening tests.
- Recommend immunizations and flu shots; discuss activity and nutrition; review medication; and screen patients for depression, substance abuse and use of alcohol or tobacco.
- Work with you to set goals to improve health and manage chronic conditions.
- Track your care over time to determine if you receive the recommended screenings and how you are doing in meeting your goals.
- Send you reminders when you are due for preventive tests or vaccinations.