Women’s Health Month Series: Annual Screenings


To recognize women’s health throughout the month of May, Dignity Health Medical Groups will be sharing insight from four physicians across different specialties about topics that are crucial to women’s health.

First up in our Women’s Health Month series is Anila Chadha, MD, with Dignity Health Medical Group — Bakersfield. Dr. Chadha is a family medicine physician and discusses the importance of annual screenings and preventative care.

Dr. Alina ChadhaWhat are important screenings that women of different ages should be sure not to skip?

Dr. Anila Chadha: Step one is knowing the various screening tests that are available to women; step two is ensuring you’re having them done at the appropriate time in your life. Early detection of a medical problem, including cancer, can be life-saving and can reduce the risk of complications.

Important screenings and recommended ages:

  • Cervical cancer screening with Pap smear — start at the age 21 and repeat every 3 years
  • Breast cancer screening with mammogram — screenings should take place annually starting at age 40
  • Colorectal cancer screening — start at age of 45 with colonoscopy or stool test; intervals of repeat testing depends on previous results and personal risk factors
  • Lung cancer screening — for women aged 50-80 who have a 20 pack-year* smoking history or have quit smoking in the last 15 years. *A “pack-year” is a way to measure smoking exposure and refers to smoking one pack of cigarettes per day for the last 20 years.
  • Osteoporosis screening — starting at age 65 with an annual bone measurement test.

Are there commonly overlooked health conditions that affect women disproportionately to men?

Dr. Anila Chadha: Coronary artery disease, caused by plaque build-up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, is the leading cause of death in women. In women, typical disease symptoms like chest pain may instead present as upper back pain, jaw pain, shortness of breath and sweating. These symptoms can be commonly overlooked and if undiagnosed could eventually lead to a heart attack.

The incidence of urinary incontinence — or the loss of bladder control — in women is much higher than men, and is not often talked about. Treatment for this condition is attainable and can range from medication to surgery. Women should be sure to bring up potential symptoms of urinary incontinence during their annual wellness appointments.

Lastly, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has a less frequent diagnosis in young girls than boys, most commonly because symptoms of ADHD present differently in girls. While boys may have more physically aggressive symptoms, girls with ADHD more often present with lack of concentration or low self-esteem. These symptoms in girls can be neglected and therefore deprive girls of treatment, leading to further mental health problems in adulthood.

Reach out to your primary care physician to discuss and schedule annual screenings, or consult our “Find a Doctor” tool to find a Dignity Health Medical Group doctor near you.

Continue to check the Dignity Health Medical Groups blog for more Women’s Health Month reminders throughout the month.

Learn More About Anila Chadha, MD





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