October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in women globally. This means it’s more common than you think. It’s not always easy to see symptoms of breast cancer, but if you go for regular mammograms, your doctor can see the changes and will be able to get you on a treatment plan. Here are five health screenings women should seriously consider having, and what the screenings entail.

1. Mammogram

What it is: A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breasts which doctors use to detect early signs of breast cancer.

“Approximately 19.4 million women aged 15 years and older live at-risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer – the cancer affecting women in South Africa the most.”– CANSA We urge you to take care of yourself and speak to your doctor about breast cancer and mammograms on your next visit.

2. Pap smear

What it is: A pap smear is a quick, painless test used to detect early cell changes in the neck of the womb, which may later progress to cancer.

Because cancer does not develop overnight, but gradually, it is good to go for a pap smear to detect cell abnormalities earlier.

3. Blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol and glucose measurement for your Healthy Heart Score

What it is: A Healthy Heart Score is our way of determining the health of your heart using the results of your blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol and glucose.

If you are in the healthy range for these measurements, you get a green Healthy Heart Score, an amber one if you need to take action to reduce your health risk factors, and a red one if you need to take strong action to reduce your health risk factors.

4. Diabetes screening

An estimated 3.5 million South Africans have diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes or your lifestyle exposes you to the risk factors associated with diabetes like obesity, consider testing for diabetes. Speak to your doctor about arranging a diabetes test.

5. Audiogram

What it is: An audiogram is a graph that shows the softest sounds you can hear at different pitches or frequencies.

An audiogram can help you find out if you have measurable hearing loss. Speak to your doctor to arrange for your audiogram.

Read more about the cancer burden in South Africa here.