With fall upon us, there are just a few months left in 2020. This is hard to believe given that Americans have spent the majority of the year amidst a global pandemic. For many women, the priority this year has been sheltering in place and keeping their families safe. However, routine screenings and appointments remain just as crucial as any year. 

Joelle Wennlund

According to a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48 percent of Americans claim they or someone in their household has delayed or skipped medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 11 percent of those individuals who delayed or skipped medical care reported that their condition worsened as a result of delayed medical attention. 

Routine screenings for women is included in these statistics. This is partially due to essential closures, but in many places routine screenings are once again up and running and women aren’t rescheduling or keeping appointments.

Here are three critical screenings women shouldn’t miss this year.

  1. Mammograms: According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, average-risk women should receive yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Those who do not start at age 40 should start no later than age 50 with all women screened every one or two years. Like many types of cancer, it is essential that breast cancer is caught early. Making a point to keep your yearly exam can save your life. 
  1. Colonoscopies: Most experts agree that you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at the age of 45. It is essential to stay on schedule and up-to-date. If you’re scheduled to have a colonoscopy this year, it is essential to keep your appointment. 
  1. Pap smears: Women ages 21 and older should have regular Pap smears. The frequency may vary depending on your doctor or medical history. Pap smears are an essential part of detecting cervical cancer and other abnormalities. 

Unfortunately, cancer and other abnormalities often caught in routine screenings will not wait for the pandemic and sheltering in place to end. Make your appointment for these critical screenings today.

Joelle Wennlund, MD, is a women’s health specialist with Ascension Medical Group.