What is the significance of health screening tests?

Health screening along with a healthy diet and exercise is necessary for maintaining good health and a higher quality of life. Health screening and timely or regular testing is vital for detecting tell-tale signs of sickness, for providing the necessary impetus to understand one’s health and make changes whenever necessary.

Screening can help us live longer and healthier lives. Diagnostic lab tests helps in identifying diseases in people who do not yet have any symptoms or signs of it.

Health screening for common diseases is often recommended and can be cost effective for a selected community or a country. The goal of such screening is to improve health outcomes; for e.g. early detection of high blood pressure. Such detection can help prevent stroke and heart disease by timely start of medication and counselling for lifestyle changes such as losing weight, giving up smoking, cutting down on salt and regular exercises.

Selective screening maybe suggested when there is family history or if a person is exposed to risk factors like carcinogens.

Cancer screening

Health screenings and regular checkups help to detect cancer at an early stage and the disease can even be forced to enter long-term remission.

Breast cancer: This is a common cancer among women. Those with a family history of breast cancer should screen for mutant BRCA. Even otherwise, those above the age of 45 years would benefit from a mammogram which is the routine test used to screen breast cancer.

Prostate cancer: This cancer is a common reason for mortality among men. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) assay and digital rectal examination may be carried out for men between the ages of 50-70 years. For those with a family history the exam must be carried out by 45 years.

Cervical cancer: Pap smear test is a cervical cancer test recommended for all sexually active women. Routine Pap smear test has helped to dramatically lower the incidence of cervical cancer. 

Colorectal cancer: People who are at a higher risk of acquiring colorectal cancer, such as diabetics, must do routine screening for colorectal cancer. 

Lifestyle diseases screening

Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure are escalating at breakneck speed and it would only be prudent on anyone’s part to be vigilant by screening regularly for these diseases.

High blood pressure can even cause other ailments such as kidney damage. Regular health monitoring can initiate early management; sometimes the disease can even be controlled without medications.

Heart Diseases: Atherosclerosis is the thickening of the arteries that may lead to heart attack. Those at risk, such as the obese, the smokers, the hypertensive and the diabetics, may well benefit from routine cardiac checkups including thread mill, ECHO and MRI. 

Type 2 diabetes: Simple blood tests taken on an empty stomach and also after meals. Urine tests may also help to detect type 2 diabetes.

Kidney Diseases: Those with diabetes, hypertension or a family history of kidney diseases are at a high risk of developing kidney diseases. Regular screening helps to detect the disease at an early stage. Blood test to check for creatinine, Urine test to check for protein and BP value check are some common tests for kidney disease screening.

Genetic Diseases: Genetic diseases are often confused with familial diseases but it must be taken into account that genetic diseases need not be hereditary but may occur as a result of spontaneous mutations. No family is free of genetic diseases.

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