Basic vs. Comprehensive Health Screening: Which one should you go for?

Going for health screening may feel daunting but it’s a valuable step towards understanding your current health status and outlook.

A health screening is essential for monitoring your physical and mental well-being as it helps identify any potential health issues early on, and allows you to be proactive towards better health, make informed decisions about your well-being, while making any necessary interventions easier.

There are generally two types of full health screenings available: basic and comprehensive.

Basic Health Screening
If you have no family history of disease or hereditary illnesses, no medical history or symptoms, and are generally well, you may wish to go for a basic health screening.

A basic health screening is designed to assess your overall health and identify any potential risks for chronic diseases early on. It should include blood tests, a chest X-ray and a physical examination. It typically requires about 30 minutes to 2 hours to complete.

Individuals who are younger can opt for these screenings and have them done once a year to once every three years.

Medical Tests in Basic Health Screening
A regular health screening usually involves a doctor examining you physically, measuring your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), as well as checking your eyesight and colour vision. Basic health screening packages also include blood and urine tests.

You may also be given the choice to have a chest X-ray that detects lung abnormalities or an electrocardiogram (ECG) that screens for certain heart diseases and abnormal heart rhythms.

Blood Test
The blood test is to check for different health indicators such as gout, Hepatitis B, while the blood count can identify some other issues such as anaemia, ongoing infection, and blood clotting problems.

It also screens for diabetes through sugar level tests, measures cholesterol levels and checks the functioning of the kidneys and liver.

Urine Test
A urine test is done to identify various conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes-related sugar levels, early signs of kidney disease due to protein in the urine, presence of blood in urine indicating possible infections, and kidney stones.

Comprehensive Health Screening
A comprehensive health screening is more extensive than basic screening and may include additional tests covering organ functions, hormones, infectious diseases and genetic disorders

Depending on the package chosen, it can take 4 to 8 hours to complete. This type of screening is typically used to detect any underlying issues that may be causing symptoms or health issues and is recommended for individuals with chronic conditions or a family history of certain health issues.

Medical Tests in Comprehensive Health Screening
Comprehensive health screening packages include the same tests as basic screenings but also have additional tests that check for markers for specific diseases and conditions such as cancer.

A comprehensive health screening may include further blood and urine tests to screen for hormone imbalances, genetic disorders and other specific diseases like HIV or hepatitis C.

It may also include imaging tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds

Blood Tests
Comprehensive health screening packages often include additional blood tests to look for markers of particular diseases and conditions.

For example, some tests may measure the levels of certain hormones, such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which can help detect any underlying thyroid problems.

Other tests may be used to look for biomarkers that can help diagnose diseases like cancer or autoimmune disorders.

Imaging Tests
In addition to the basic tests included in a basic or comprehensive health screening package, some comprehensive packages may also include detailed imaging tests such as ultrasound prostate, pelvis and abdomen to detect any abnormalities within the body.

Stool Test
The stool test screens for abnormalities such as parasites, blood, or bacteria. This type of test is often used to detect digestive problems and intestinal infections.

Thinprep(Pap) Smear
A comprehensive health screening may also include a Thinprep(Pap) smear, which is usually offered to all women aged 25-65 years with experience of sexual intercourse. The test is mainly used to detect any abnormalities of the cervix that could indicate cervical cancer.

A Thinprep(Pap) smear is usually done every three years for women aged 25-30 and a human papillomavirus DNA (HPV DNA) test every five years for women aged 30 or over.

Women aged 40 and over may also be offered a mammogram as part of their comprehensive health screening package. A mammogram is an X-ray that can detect any early signs of breast cancer, allowing for treatment to begin earlier if needed.

Bone Mineral Density (BMD)
Comprehensive health screening packages may also include a bone mineral density (BMD) test, which is used to measure the density of bones. This type of test detects osteoporosis and other conditions that affect the strength of bones.

Talk to your doctor on which type of health screening is for you
Health screenings help individuals identify potential health problems before they become serious. A basic screening may cover a broad range of tests but it is advisable to ask for a comprehensive health screening if you are at risk of specific conditions or have a family history of certain illnesses.

If you are unsure or have concerns, it’s best to talk to your doctor about which type of screening is best for you.

Above all, monitor your health with regular screenings, so that potential issues can be detected early and treated promptly to ensure the best outcomes for your health.