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Take Control. Get Screened.

Don’t give diseases a chance to develop

iStock_000054567032_LargeOne of the best ways to improve your long-term health is to nip developing health problems in the bud – and that’s where health screening comes in. Health Screening Physician Dr Ang Geok Lian tells us more about health screening.

Q: I feel well. Why do I need to go for a health screening?

A: A health screening helps you to find out if you have a particular disease or condition. Sometimes, you may not show any signs or symptoms of 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, it 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 such as 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.

It is normal for patients who are going through health screening to feel apprehensive and anxious. They are not sure if any abnormality or disease such as diabetes or cancer would be detected as a result of screening.

Q: Can children go for health screening?

A: Children can of course have health screening done, especially if they show symptoms of weight loss, lethargy, excessive urination, excessive bruising etc. However, the disease profile of children is quite different from adults. Some of their symptoms, such as weight loss or lethargy, might be due to stress in school.

The screening physician should also do a quick screen for ADHD, dyslexia or even mental stress problems which are becoming more prevalent in Singapore due to the competitive school environment.

Young adults can start a two-yearly basic health screening after the age of 20. I would advise a yearly screening after age 30.

Q: When should women start these screening tests such as mammograms and pap smear?

A: Yearly pap smear tests should be done for all sexually active women, regardless of age. Mammograms can be done after the age of 40, unless there is a family history of breast cancer, in which case, screening mammograms can start before age 40.

If there is no significant family history of cancer or early heart disease, we encourage females under 30 years old to go for health screening every two years, yearly pap smears and monthly breast self-examinations. However, generally, a health screening is suggested for adults over 30 years old.

Screening can help you detect disease conditions you may have, even if you look and feel well. In fact, 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.

Q: There are many health screening packages. How do I select the right health screening package for me?

A: This will depend on family history (if there is a history of cancer, diabetes, heart disease in the family), age (older patients tend to develop more problems such as glaucoma), lifestyle (smokers and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk of developing health problems) and any present health complaints.

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Dr Ang Geok Lian is a Health Screening Physician at Mount Alvernia Hospital Health Screening Centre.
Posted by ezyhealth on Mar 5 2015. Filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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