The Importance of Maintaining Regular Health Screenings

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered most aspects of our daily lives — and for many people, that disruption has included changes to their regular health screenings or check-ups.

The pandemic has caused many patients to abandon scheduled appointments or to push those appointments off for as long as possible.

While it makes sense to be careful during a pandemic, it's also vitally important to maintain your regular health screenings.

These appointments are of particular importance for patients at elevated risk for certain types of cancer.

World Cancer Day is on February 4, making now a great time to take a look at the screening guidelines for certain types of cancers.

Remember: if you have questions about whether or not a screening is appropriate for you or have questions about a specific health concern, you should talk to your primary care provider.

Annual Mammogram

Mammograms can detect cancer early, when it is most treatable.

In fact, mammograms show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or her physician can feel them.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend that women get yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Women who have a family history of breast cancer should get a mammogram even earlier.

South Shore Hospital offers mammograms at two convenient locations — and you can request a screening online.

Lung Cancer Screening

More Americans die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer, with nearly a quarter of all cancer deaths caused by lung cancer.

The reason is that by the time symptoms present, the disease is typically in a later stage and harder to treat.

Low-dose computed tomography (CT) is the only recommended screening for people at high risk of lung cancer.

Patients considered high risk for lung cancer are:

  • Between 55-77 years old
  • Current smoker or quit smoking within the past 15 years
  • Your “pack year” is greater than 30.

Cervical Cancer Screening

There are multiple screenings that can help detect cervical cancer, including the pap test and HPV test.

The CDC recommends that adults begin getting pap tests at the age of 21, with an average of three years between tests if results are normal.

Testicular Cancer Screening

Testicular cancer is one of the most common cancers in young men, with nearly 10,000 cases in the United States each year.

Unlike the other screenings on this list, patients can do their own testicular self-exam at home — view our Get In Touch with Your Testicles guide for more information.

Regular testicular self exams will help identify any changes in your testicles, including swelling, lumps, or heaviness.

Should you encounter any irregularities during a self exam, contact your primary care provider for a more thorough follow-up examination.


Regular screenings can help save lives! For more information on the screenings above, contact your primary care provider or visit our Diagnostic Testing & Imaging page.