A health screening is the first step to safeguarding your health. Early detection and timely intervention pave the way for early treatment and can reduce future complications and treatment cost. Alvernia Health Screening Physician Dr Ang Geok Lian explains why it is important to be proactive and to take the first step to primary prevention with regular health screening.
What is health screening?
Health screening involves the use of a patient’s history, physical examinations and tests to detect disease early in people who look or feel well.
I feel well. Why do I need to go for a health screening?
A health screening helps you find out if you have a particular disease or condition. Sometimes, you may not show any signs of symptoms or disease. Early detection, followed by treatment and control of the condition can result in good outcome and lowers the risk of serious complications. Certain chronic diseases such as diabetes take time to develop and if detected early can be better managed with less complications and improved long term outcomes. Cancer starts small and by the time a patient feels pain, bloated or an obvious lump, the cancer may already be at an advanced stage.
A person who exercises regularly and watches his or her diet is more likely to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes. However, a disease such as cancer can sometimes be totally unexpected. For example, 10% to 15% of lung cancer occurs in non-smokers, especially in Asian women. That is why it is important to get screened even when you feel perfectly healthy.
When should a person start thinking of health screening?
If there is no significant family history of cancer or early heart disease, we encourage young adults under 30 years old to go for health screening every two years, yearly PAP smear test and monthly breast self-examinations. A yearly health screening is suggested for adults over 30 years old.
Many conditions such as diabetes and high blood cholesterol often have no early signs or symptoms.
Planning your health screening in advance can make a difference to your quality of life and ultimately your health as well.
Why do I need to go for health screening at recommended frequencies?
A health screening will only pick up health conditions that are present at the time of screening. Regular screening helps to detect conditions that may develop after the previous screening. That is why it is important to go for screenings at the recommended frequency.
If a patient is asymptomatic, would discovery of a disease increase his stress level?
In the immediate aftermath, a patient may feel apprehensive knowing he has, for example, diabetes or cancer. It is my experience that most patients are actually very thankful that a potentially serious medical problem has been picked up early during a health screening. In fact, most patients will go back and strongly encourage their relatives and friends to go for health screening as well. The doctor handling the consultation also needs to be very tactful in balancing medical facts and giving hope or encouragement to the patient.
There are many health screening packages. How do I select the right health screening package for me?
This will depend on family history (if there is a history of cancer, diabetes or heart disease in the family history), age (older patients tend to develop more problems such as glaucoma), lifestyle (smokers and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle) and any present health complaints.
What is expected during the health screening process?
During registration, our trained counter staff will discuss a suitable health screening package with the patient. This can be subject to changes after consultation with the doctor. Blood, urine and stool tests will then be collected followed by X-rays, ultrasound, CT scans and eye screening. In between these tests, the patient will see the doctor for a full consultation and physical examination. We do our best to ensure that waiting times at the different stations are kept to a minimum. We also have a beautifully designed waiting lounge where patients can have a healthy breakfast of porridge, sandwiches and fruits.