What is screening?
Screening is a way to detect diseases or conditions before they cause symptoms. A prime example is cervical cancer screening. Early cervical cancer has no symptoms. However, through regular screening it can be caught and easily treated in its earliest stages. Cervical cancer screening programs have clearly been shown to reduce death from cervical cancer over the last several decades through earlier diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
We also recognize the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest evidence-based medical guidelines (for instance, from the United States Preventive Services Task Force) and use these to help determine the most suitable screenings for our patients. By following these guidelines, as well as tailoring the evaluation to a patient’s individual needs, we can identify risk factors and detect diseases, which will improve health outcomes and quality of life.
So...Screen for everything, right?
It is also our responsibility as physicians to be mindful and avoid over-screening. It is important that we follow a targeted approach with each individual patient to avoid unnecessary tests, which could lead to false-positive results, unnecessary further testing (or worse: unnecessary treatment!), undue anxiety, and increased healthcare costs for you.
What screening tests should absolutely be done? Current evidence-based guidelines recommend the following for average-risk patients (those who do not have increased risk of illness due to personal or family history) starting at certain ages:
Blood pressure screening
Blood sugar and cholesterol screening
Breast cancer screening
Cervical cancer screening in patients with a cervix
Chlamydia screening in patients with a cervix (under the age of 25)
Colorectal (“colon”) cancer screening
Lung cancer screening in select individuals
Keep in mind that, based on your family and personal history, other screening tests might be recommended as well.
Where do we start?
Of course, recommendations vary based on your age, gender, and personal/family health history, and may be different for you personally. We are happy to discuss what screening tests would be appropriate for your individual situation. We discuss this with our patients at their annual visit. Not a patient of our practice yet? Click to schedule a FREE 15 minute meet-and-greet appointment with Dr. Anand or Dr. Heikens to learn more about us and how our practice works!