Tracking one’s health is increasingly important as our work and home lives are more hectic than ever. There is so much information available on the Internet, it can often cause more confusion than clarity.
The health issues facing a woman vary as she ages – some have an impact on your everyday life, such as symptoms caused by menopause, while others can be more serious, such as ovarian and cervical cancer.
Fortunately, in the UK we have a National Screening programme for a large number of health issues: https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/preventing-cancer/Pages/cancer-screening.aspx
It is therefore, recommended that the GP is consulted initially to see what screening is available through the NHS and then, consider more detailed options from a private practice.
What are the common screening tests?
Blood tests are the core investigation for health – measuring hormone levels, vitamin levels (especially Vitamin D), minerals (eg iron), folic acid, insulin, glucose, other metabolic markers.
At Hormone Health, we have developed some specific blood profile tests that give more specific information to help a diagnosis: These include:
- Standard hormone profile
- Ovarian reserve (assessment of fertility)
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) / gynaecological endocrine profile
- Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI – is a loss of normal function of the ovaries before age 40)
- Fit for 50
- Fit for Life
- Hair loss profile
- Tiredness profile
Another very specific blood test is the CA125 blood test.
CA125 is a protein that is found in blood. A simple blood test will measure the level of CA125 in the blood.
In most healthy women the level of CA125 is usually less than 35. However, some women do have a naturally high level of CA125 in their blood. The level of CA125 in the blood can rise for many reasons which include endometriosis, menstruation, ovarian cysts, and sometimes ovarian cancer.
The blood sample will also determine the levels of CA-125, a tumour marker which has been linked to an increased risk of having ovarian cancer. CA-125 is found in higher concentrations in ovarian cancer cells than in other cells and is currently the most common tool used to detect this type of cancer.
The Ca 125 test is performed in conjunction with an ultrasound scan of the pelvis to give the most accurate diagnosis.
Ultrasound (also called sonography) is a technique that uses sound waves to image structures in the body. During the ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are transmitted to the area of interest in the body (eg breast, pelvic area) and the returning echoes are recorded with any abnormalities identified.
The most common scan for women is the Pelvic Ultrasound Scan, which is used to detect or exclude the presence of fibroids, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovaries and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
This is a specific type of X-ray that measures bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA is an abbreviation for ‘Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry’, but may also be called a DXA scan or a bone density scan.
DEXA scans are often used to diagnose or assess someone’s risk of osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of breakage.
Higher risk groups include: menopausal women (particularly those with an early menopause or following an early hysterectomy and removal of the ovaries), smokers, women who have lost their periods with an eating disorder, history of a previous fracture and a family history of osteoporosis.
Further information available in our DEXA bone screening service leaflet.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) test
HPV is a virus that can cause the cells of the cervix to change. It is now conducted as a first line alternative to the PAP test and may also be tested for sexual health reasons.
The NHS runs an efficient screening service for women aged 25 – 64. The traditional PAP test which detects pre cancer and cancer cells, has recently been replaced by the HPV test as the first line investigation
At Hormone Health, we can conduct all the screening tests that have been described. As well as each individual test, we offer more cost effective packages – further information in our WellWoman health screening packages leaflet.
The most important part of the process is to interpret the results in conjunction with each individual’s lifestyle and medical needs. We are passionate about working together to ensure that the appropriate health choices are made and individual screening tests.