Screening tests every woman needs


When it comes to common conditions that affect women, prevention (where possible) is better than cure, and early diagnosis ensures the best possible health outcomes. Here's a summary of the most important routine screening checks that all women should keep up with to ensure their best health.

For you to be healthy, various systems in your body need to work together and work well. The problem is that you can't always judge how healthy you are by how well you feel. Take control of your health with routine screening tests like your yearly Health Check, a Pap smear every three years and, after 40, a mammogram every two years.

When you go for routine screenings tests, you're rewarded with better knowledge about your health and a chance to improve it. You can earn Vitality points as well.

Screening tests for cancer

Breast cancer and cervical cancer are two of the most common cancers among women in South Africa. Luckily, there's a good chance of recovery if you catch them early. By knowing your body, what's normal for you and going for regular screenings, you can prevent cancer from sneaking up on you.

Pap smears can detect cervical cancer early

Early cervical precancers or cancers often have no signs or symptoms, which is why having a Pap smear every three years is so important. Female members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme have cover for a Pap smear every three years from our Screening and Prevention Benefit. You can get 2 500 Vitality points for having a Pap smear.

Pap smears can detect precancerous cells and cervical cancer. An abnormal cervical screening test does not mean you definitely have cancer. Most abnormal results are caused by an infection or the presence of treatable precancerous cells, rather than cancer itself.

Mammograms reveal breast lumps that could be breast cancer

Women often detect breast lumps themselves before a doctor does. That's why it is so important to examine your breasts each month for abnormalities. If you are younger than 40, you only need to go for a mammogram (breast X-ray) if you have a family history of breast cancer or feel a lump.

Once you're over 40, female members of Discovery Health Medical Scheme have cover for a mammogram every two years from our Screening and Prevention Benefit. These members can also get 2 500 Vitality points for having a mammogram. A mammogram can detect breast lumps before you feel them.

Catch other conditions before they start with the Health Check

You can ward off certain conditions before they take hold. The Health Check measures your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and calculates your body mass index (BMI). These screening tests determine your risk for conditions like chronic high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.

Your health is unique to you. So we use the results of your individual Health Check to refer you to personalised condition-specific healthcare programmes if you need it. Our programmes give members and their Premier Plus GPs the tools they need to monitor and manage health conditions.

If you have a Health Check done and it shows you are at risk for developing certain conditions and you're a member of Discovery Health Medical Scheme, you have cover for general screening tests and additional tests based on your age, sex and health profile. You'll then receive tailored health goals to guide you on how to manage your health condition(s) - and get rewarded for doing so. You can earn up to 20 000 Vitality points for a Health Check depending on how many of your results are in range.

Don't delay. Have your screening tests to catch conditions early before they have the chance to catch you!


South African Government. Women's Month 2021. Accessed 4 August 2021.
World Health Organization. Human rights and health. Accessed 4 August 2021.
Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). What you need to know about cervical cancer. Accessed 4 August 2021.
CANSA. Women & cancer. Accessed 5 August 2021.

The Discovery Health Medical Scheme is an independent non-profit entity governed by the Medical Schemes Act, and regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes. It is administered by a separate company, Discovery Health (Pty) Ltd, an authorised financial services provider.

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