Make These Four Screenings Part of Your New Year's Resolutions


Dr. Russell Kelly, Radiologist

Russell Kelly, MD, Radiologist

Every year, millions of Americans pledge their New Year’s resolutions—vowing to make a healthy start to the year ahead.

While diet and exercise changes top the list, preventive care and health screenings are just as important to start your year off right.

Depending on your sex, age, whether or not you smoke, and family and personal health history, you should consider adding one or more of these imaging tests on your list of resolutions:

  1. 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. Request a call for an appointment or schedule your appointment by calling 781-624-4090.
  2. Lung Cancer Screening. More people die from lung cancer than any other type of 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. Most health plans cover the screening for people who meet the following criteria (if you have questions about the requirements, request a call from one of our imaging specialists or call us at 781-624-4368):
    1. Must be between 55-77 years old
    2. Current smoker or quit smoking within the past 15 years
    3. Your “pack year” is greater than 30. Calculate your “pack year” by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years you smoked. One pack per day for 30 years is 30 pack years. Two packs per day for 15 years is also 30 pack years.
    4. No history of any cancer within the last five years
  3. Bone Density Screening. Osteoporosis—which literally means porous bone—is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Bone density testing measures the strength of your bones and the probability of fracture for people who are at high-risk for osteoporosis. The test—called a bone densitometry or bone mineral density scan—is an easy, noninvasive procedure that takes minutes to complete. Women should get a bone assessment at age 65. Men age 70 and up may want to talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits before deciding. Younger women, and men ages 50 to 69, should consider getting screened if they have risk factors for serious bone loss. Risk factors include:
    1. Breaking a bone in a minor accident
    2. Having rheumatoid arthritis
    3. Smoking
    4. Drinking heavily
    5. Low body weight
    6. Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more.
    7. Having a very low Vitamin D level
  4. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) Screening. PAD is a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels reduce blood flow to the limbs. PAD is a sign of arteriosclerosis (clogged blood vessels) in the leg. Arteriosclerosis is the primary cause of heart attack, the number one cause of death in the US. The most effective screening tool for PAD is the ankle brachial index (ABI). ABI is a quick, painless test that will provide early detection of symptoms of PAD. It compares the blood pressure in your ankle with the blood pressure in your arm, which produces an ankle brachial index (ABI). The test takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. A good candidate for screenings are adults over the age 45 with other risks for vascular disease. These risks include:
    1. Diabetes
    2. Smoking
    3. Hypertension
    4. High cholesterol
    5. Family history of vascular disease

If you think you may be a candidate for any of these imaging tests, talk to your primary care physician. Your doctor can review the risks and develop a preventive health care plan based on your unique situation.

South Shore Health's team of board-certified radiologists is the largest in the region and includes specialists in interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, neuroradiology and pediatric radiology. All of South Shore Health's imaging procedures are fully accredited by the American College of Radiology.


Learn more about Screenings at South Shore Health.