After Taylor Swift's mother was diagnosed with cancer, N.J. doctors encourage medical screenings

After Taylor Swift's mother was diagnosed with cancer, N.J. doctors encourage medical screenings

By Kelly Roncace, South Jersey Times

People may say there's "nothing in her brain," but Taylor Swift sure didn't "shake off" the feeling that her 57-year-old mother, Andrea Finlay, should see a doctor.

For Christmas last year, Swift asked her mom to go see a doctor just to have some routine screenings done to ease the singer's worries.

Even though Finlay said she "felt fine," she made an appointment and got a complete check up.

Low and behold, when the test results came in, Swift's mother was diagnosed with cancer.

While the family has decided to keep the details private, Finlay wanted her daughter to share the news with her fans to encourage them to ask their own parents to go to the doctor and get screened for cancer and other potential health problems.

Dr. Greg Taylor, board certified family doctor and medical director at Kennedy Health Alliance in Washington Township, said people should see their doctors for routine physicals every two years beginning at any age.

"I try to preach to my patients to get out of the practice of only going to see the doctor if they're sick," Taylor said.

When patients reach the age of 50, Taylor said they should see the doctor every year for routine screenings, depending on the person's existing medical condition.

Dr. Joshua Coren, vice chair of family medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, said, in addition to cancer screenings, there are more obscure tests that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that can help reduce a patient's risk of infection.

"There are certain screenings we know will help prevent diseases in addition to cancers," Coren said. "They are relatively new, but have produced interesting evidence."

The Task Force recommends everyone born between the 1945 and 1965 be screened for Hepatitis C, and everyone from 15 to 65 years old be tested for HIV.

"During that period, transfusions and infection transmission risk was much higher," Coren said of the Hep C testing.

While many screenings are done based on family history, background, and other medical conditions, the Hep C and HIV screenings are recommended barring any other information.

"The HIV screening recommendation is not if you are at high risk between 15 and 65, but they are saying anyone between 15 and 65 should get tested," Coren said.

He tries to catch his adult patients during sick visits or follow ups, and encourage them to come in and have preventative screenings done or to simply come in for a well visit.

"In pediatrics, we see the patients many times during their first few years of life for preventative visits," he said. "For adults, during (preventative) visits, we're not only trying to pick up what's already there, but fix things before they start."

Taylor agrees.

"Get to the doctor for a routine visit," Taylor said. "I'm a family doctor, so most who come in to see me are already sick, and that's what we're focused on. But if just a few people reading this decide to go in for a routine screening and check up, it could make a difference."

Coren said prevention helps him to keep people healthy.

"We've trained a lot of years to keep people healthy, and that's the best part of it," he said.

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Date Published: Saturday, April 11, 2015 - 09:45
Source URL: South Jersey Times