Live Healthy Women's Health Care
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Women's Health Topics:
Our Live Healthy women's health care program is designed to encourage women to have preventive services. These preventive services have a special focus on breast and cervical cancer screenings.
We provide information to women about risk factors and standards for how often to be tested. We also send reminders to women who may not have been tested.
Some facts about breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women. It's the second-leading cause of cancer death for women, after lung cancer.
- The risk increases as a woman ages, if she has a family history of breast cancer, has never had children, or had her first child after age 30. However, over 70 percent of cases occur in women who have no risk factors.
- Less than one-third of American women follow recommended guidelines for getting a breast X-ray. This is a simple procedure that can reveal lumps up to two years before they can be felt.
- If detected early, breast cancer can often be treated effectively with surgery that preserves the breast. Five-year survival after treatment for early stage breast cancer is 96 percent.
- The risk of breast cancer rises sharply after age 40. About 80 percent of invasive breast cancers occur in women over 50. The average age at diagnosis is 64.
- If you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.
1) ACS - Amercian Cancer Society, Inc.1/2014, http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-risk-factors
2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1/2014,
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A mammogram is a breast X-ray. Mammograms are safe, quick, and cause minimal discomfort. The amount of radiation that the test exposes you to is similar to a dental X-ray. Although breast self-examinations are important, an X-ray can detect a lump too small to feel.
When should I have a Mammogram?
Discuss your risk factors and screening needs with your physician. UnitedHealthcare has adopted guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force:
- Mammogram every two years for women ages 50-74 or as your doctor advises.
1) CDC - Division of Cancer Prevention and Control National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion - Breast Cancer Screening, 12/31/13
2) U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
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The facts about cervical cancer
- All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, about 12,000 women in the US get cervical cancer.1
- Early detection and treatment increases the chance of survival.
- Pap tests can help in the early detection of cancer.
In the United States, the death rate from cervical cancer has declined greatly in the last 40 years. This is mainly because of the Pap test, which can find pre-cancerous cells early. It represents the best test for cervical cancer. It has contributed to a decline in cervical cancer deaths over 70 percent in the past decade.
1) U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999-2010 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2013. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
2) CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Cervical Cancer Statistics, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 12/2012
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Screening Pap test
The Pap test is a simple, painless procedure that is done in a physician's office or clinic. It only takes a few minutes.
When should I have a Pap test?
Discuss your risk factors and screening needs with your physician. UnitedHealthcare has adopted the guidelines below from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force:
- First Pap test at age 21 or within three years beginning of sexual activity, whichever comes first.
- Pap test at least once every three years.
- Routine Pap tests are no longer recommended for women who have had a total hysterectomy for a benign disease.
- Routine Pap tests are no longer recommended for women over age 65 if they have had adequate recent screening with normal Pap smears and are not otherwise at high risk for cervical cancer.
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. There are many types of HPV. Some HPV types can cause changes on a woman's cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts.
HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. HPV usually causes no symptoms so you can't tell that you have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.
Other things can increase your risk of cervical cancer:
- Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems.
- Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years).
- Having given birth to three or more children.
- Having several sexual partners.
1) CDC - Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Cervical Cancer Risk Factors - 9/2013
2) NIH - Cervical Cancer Screening - 12/2009
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What can a Pap test reveal?
A Pap test can show the early changes of cells on the surface of the cervix.
An early change in the size, shape, or number of surface cells is called dysplasia. Some of these changes just disappear, but others become larger or more abnormal. Pre-cancerous cells don't cause pain, and generally do not cause any symptoms. That is why it's important to have regular Pap tests.
1) CDC - Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Cervical Cancer Screening
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Before your Pap test
It is important to tell your doctor about any changes in your sexual history, medications (including over-the-counter medicine) or physical condition. That information can help with your Pap test.
How to Prepare for Your Pap Test
You should not schedule your Pap test for a time when you are having your period.
If you are going to have a Pap test in the next two days:
- You should not douche (rinse the vagina with water or another fluid).
- You should not use a tampon.
- You should not have sex.
- You should not use a birth control foam, cream, or jelly.
- You should not use a medicine or cream in your vagina.
1) CDC - Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Cervical Cancer Screening, 9/2013
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Chlamydia is a curable sexually-transmitted disease. You can get it from all types of sexual contact. It can cause serious problems in men, women, and newborn babies of infected mothers.
To help prevent the serious consequences of chlamydia, screening at least annually is recommended for all sexually active women age 25 years and younger. An annual screening test is also recommended for older women who have certain risk factors. All pregnant women should have a screening test for chlamydia. Talk to your health care professional about your need to be tested.
Who is affected?
- Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted infectious disease in the U.S.
- In 2012, it was estimated 3 million cases occur each year.
- The infection affects both men and women with rates highest among adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 years.
- For women the highest age-specific rates reported were ages 15-19.
- For men, the highest age-specific rates reported were ages 20-14.
Why is chlamydia called the silent epidemic?
- 70-95 percent of women have no symptoms.
- Ninety percent of men have no symptoms.
- Untreated chlamydia in women can cause a pelvic disease that can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and tubal pregnancy.
- Chlamydia can increase your risk for HIV, if you are exposed.
- Chlamydia can cause newborns to have eye infections and/or pneumonia.
- Reactive arthritis can occur after an infection
What are the symptoms of chlamydia?
- Abnormal vaginal or penile discharge (mucus or pus) or bleeding
- Painful urination
- Painful intercourse
- Symptoms usually appear one-to-three weeks after infection
- Symptoms may be mild or absent
- Rectal pain, discharge, and/or bleeding
Who should be screened for chlamydia?
- All sexually-active, nonpregnant women ages 24 and younger and in older nonpregnant women who are at an increased risk.
- All sexually-active women of any age with the following risk factors for chlamydia should be tested:
- New or multiple sexual partners
- History of chlamydia or other sexually-transmitted diseases (STD)
- Not using condoms consistently and correctly to reduce the spread of infection
- Exchanging sex for money or drugs
- Other populations at risk are:
- Men and women who are incarcerated
- Military recruits
- Patients at public sexually transmitted infection clinics
How is chlamydia infection treated?
Infection can be easily treated and cured with oral antibiotics.
- Avoid sexual relations until antibiotic treatment has been completed to prevent spreading the infection to partners
- All sexual partners need to be tested and treated; retesting is recommended after treatment
- Take all prescribed medicine regardless if symptoms were present
- Call your physician if symptoms do not disappear one-to-two weeks after finishing your medicine
Source: Screening for Chlamydial Infection, Topic Page. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Remember to discuss your risk factors with your physician.
We care about your health and encourage you to talk with your physician if you have questions about your health or screening needs.
If you need help finding a doctor, please call the customer service number on your member ID card. For TTY/TDD (hearing impaired) use your TTY machine and call 711. You will need to provide the 800 number on the back of your health plan ID card.
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