Screening Tests - Which Ones Should You Consider
As we head into the new year, it’s a perfect time to take stock of many things, including both your physical and financial health. Have you given thought lately to what you’ve had for screening tests and/or if you need to be more proactive. Of course, not all tests are needed by everyone. There are other factors to consider such as your age, family history, if you have existing health conditions, etc. In this blog we will touch upon some of the more common screening tests. Again, these may not be applicable to everyone, but they are tests to consider. Keep in mind early detection can prevent a more serious illness or disease, as well as saving you on medical expenses, since catching something early on can result in a better outcome.
In this Get Fit series we discuss being not only physically fit but also financially fit. Often the two go hand in hand. Even with health insurance, medical costs can put a strain on your wallet adding to the stress of dealing with an illness. This is why screening tests are so important.
So… let’s define a screening test. A screening test is done to detect potential diseases or illnesses in people who do not have any symptoms of a disorder. The goal of early detection is to reduce the risks of disease and treat discovered issues effectively. A screening test is valuable because of its ability to detect potential problems while minimizing unclear or ambiguous results. While screening tests are not 100% accurate in all cases, it is still better to get them at the appropriate times than not get them at all.
Below are a few popular screening tests:
Usually recommended for age 50 or older but this also depends on your family history. It is an exam used to detect abnormalities in the large intestine and the rectum. During a colonoscopy a tube is inserted in the rectum. It has a tiny camera at the end which allows the doctor to view the inside of the intestine. While the “prep” is not pleasant, most people state that it is a painless procedure.
This is an exam used to detect breast cancer or any abnormalities in the breast tissue. The age when you should get this exam differs. Mayo Clinic recommends mammograms begin at age 40 and continue annually. If there is an area of concern detected on the screening, an ultrasound may be suggested to further examine the area.
This is an important screening test, especially for women under 65 who are sexually active. It helps to detect cancer even before symptoms show. During this exam a gynecologist takes a sampling of cells from the cervix and examines them. Some practices also recommend getting screened for the HPV (human papilloma virus) at the same time.
This screening is performed via blood tests. Patients with high cholesterol levels have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease due to an increase in fatty deposits within the blood vessels. The Mayo Clinic states that high cholesterol can be inherited but it can also be caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices. That means it may be treatable and preventable. High cholesterol has no symptoms, but a healthy diet and exercise, and for some, medication, can help reduce high cholesterol.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
This is a blood test for males that measures the PSA levels in the blood. The prostate-specific antigens can be elevated in the case of prostate cancer, but it could be related to other concerns. An antigen is any substance that evokes a response from a person’s immune system. According to Healthline, PSA tests are recommended for men that are at high risk as early as 40 years old In otherwise healthy men, it is considered at age 50.
This is a blood test which measures your blood sugar levels. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends getting your blood sugar levels tested at age 45. With prediabetes your blood sugar level is higher than normal and puts you at risk for diabetes.
These are just a few recommended screens for common diseases. It may be a good conversation to have with your physician at your next appointment. In fact, why not create a list of tests, and screenings to see if your doctor feels they’re right for you? It’s always good to take preventive measures when possible.
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