Definition & Overview

Undergoing health screening is highly recommended to prevent the development of certain diseases and in some cases, prevent medical conditions from worsening by having them diagnosed while they're on their early stages. Several types of medical conditions, such as cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, have higher chances of being cured completely if they are diagnosed earlier and if timely treatment is provided.

Who should undergo and expected results

Regardless if the patient has a higher or lower risk of developing certain diseases, health screening is highly recommended. Some of the most common tests are the following:

  • Cholesterol tests – This test is highly recommended for individuals who smoke, drink alcohol, and are obese.
  • Colorectal cancer – This is a must for individuals who are 50 years old and above, have history of colorectal polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, and inherited gene defects or mutations.
  • Pap Smear, Osteoporosis, and Mammograms – These tests are highly recommended for the prevention of cervical and breast cancers as well as medical conditions that typically affect women.
  • Prostate Cancer Screening – This is recommended for men who are over 50 years old, obese, and have high testosterone levels.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Sexually active individuals, particularly those who have more than one sexual partner, are recommended to undergo screening for STDs.
  • Diabetes – This is recommended for patients who have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure – Every time you visit your doctor, your blood pressure will be checked. If there are instances wherein the test reveals that you have an elevated blood pressure, you may need to undergo other tests to determine the cause.

How the procedure works

Undergoing health screening involves blood exams, urinalysis, fecalysis, x-rays, and blood pressure tests. If the doctor suspects that a certain disease has developed, further examinations to confirm the diagnosis will also be performed. Individuals who choose to be screened for the most common types of diseases can expect the whole procedure to be completed in one day. The diagnosing physician will then discuss the results during the follow-up consultation.

Possible risks and complications

All health screening procedures, which are totally non-invasive, are 100% safe. However, there is a risk that the results are not accurate. If the result turns out to be false positive, you would likely to undergo additional tests that will cost more time and money and may receive treatment that you do not need in the first place. However, if the result is false negative, there is a good chance that the disease will progress without being checked.

Nevertheless, the benefits of undergoing health screening outweigh the risks of receiving a false positive or false negative result.

References:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults, United States, 2014. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule.pdf. Accessed July 24, 2014.
  • Gaziano M, Ridker PM, Libby P. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2012:1010.
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