Primary Care Screening Checklist
for Women of Color Over 40

Women Over 40

By: Asiyah Muhsin

40 is that magical age when many of us begin to feel centered, as though we’re walking in our purpose, and more committed than ever to our overall health and wellness. It’s truly a time of transition. As women of color, we are faced with health disparities throughout our lifetimes. One of the best ways we can protect ourselves from the social, healthcare setting-related, and political issues that impact our health outcomes is to arm ourselves with knowledge and be our own best advocate.

Preventative care is essential to good quality of life! Insurance covers all of these screening tests. If you’re uninsured, please inquire about these screenings through your local Department of Health.

This checklist is a basic list of preventative care screenings you can ask your primary care provider (PCP) about to ensure that your physical and mental health care needs are met and exceeded. Some of these screenings are situational, so use what applies and leave the rest.

1. Mammogram
If you haven’t begun annual breast cancer screenings, the time to begin is now. This is particularly important if you have a family history of breast cancer. Note: Black women are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, so breast health screenings are essential.

2. Pap Test (Pap Smear)

You’ve likely been getting this test done since the age of 21. Don’t stop now. It’s recommended that you continue to get this screening test done every 3-5 years if you still have your cervix.

3. Depression Screening
Useful to determine if you are depressed and at risk for self-harm or suicide.

4. Cardiovascular Risk Assessment

Assessment includes blood pressure checks, and diabetes and cholesterol screening. Each of these health issues plays a role in assessing your risk of a heart attack and/or stroke.

5. Colorectal Cancer Screening

This will likely be on your PCP’s radar when you turn 45, however, this is a great time to begin the discussion so you can prepare for the screening tests ahead of you soon.

6. Immunization Screening

Immunizations (vaccinations) vary depending on age and risk of exposure. Discuss with your PCP to determine what best fits your health and wellness needs and lifestyle.

7. Physical Exam

A basic assessment is used to screen for diseases, make referrals for specialty medical services, assess risk for future health problems, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

8. Thyroid Function Screening

Almost 13% of women over the age of 35 have hypothyroidism. Have your thyroid function checked every five years to stay abreast of any changes that may affect your overall picture of health.

Preventative care is key. With our busy lives, it may be difficult to remember to schedule routine appointments and health screenings. I encourage you to use your birthday as your reminder to prioritize your health. Try to schedule appointments during your birth month annually, so you never forget and get ahead of any health issues.