To detect illnesses that can be treated early, resulting in better outcomes and avoid complications.
Did you know?
- The number 1 cause of death in Singapore is cancer
- The number 3 cause of death is heart attack.
What constitutes to a health screening
- Physical examinations by a medical practitioner
- Tests such as blood test, stool test, urine test and Pap smears
- Imagings such as mammogram and ultrasound
What are the conditions that can be detected through a health screening?
Obesity is an important diagnosis as it can lead to multiple chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Obesity is diagnosed via the calculation of BMI (body mass index)
Classification of BMI as shown :
Underweight < 18.5
Healthy: 18.5 - <25
Overweight: 25 - 30
If you are 40 years and above, you should check your blood pressure at least once a year. High blood pressure has no symptoms most of the time. It is through the measuring of blood pressure where hypertension is diagnosed. Bp of > 140/90 taken on two to three separate occasions are used to achieve a diagnosis of hypertension.
A fasting blood test will yield a breakdown of the LDL, HDL and triacyglyceride levels. High LDL or triacylglyceride levels means you are at a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis and its related complications eg. Stroke and ischemic heart disease.
You should be screened if you are :
- 40 years or older
- have family members with high
- have pre-existing medical conditions like obesity, diabetes or hypertension
- smoker / drinks alcohol regularly
Screening for blood glucose should begin at 40 years old to detect diabetes. A fasting blood glucose can be taken to measure your sugar levels.
Normal : < 6mmol/L
You should consider also screening at an
earlier age if you :
- are overweight
- have pre-existing conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol
- close relative that have diabetes
- have diabetes during pregnancy
Screening fo individuals over 50 years old. Stool testing for blood is a screening test for colorectal cancer. Early stages of colorectal cancer may be asymptomatic. The detection of blood in the stool may indicate the possibility of cancer within the colon - if found to be positive, will require further testing to evaluate the problem.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in females. Screening of breast cancer involves undergoing mammogram and/or ultrasound breast.
- For females between 40 - 49: it should be done annually.
- For females above 50 years old : It should be done every 2-3 years.
Your doctor may recommend that you do it even earlier before 40 if you have family history of breast cancer.
Pap smear is indicated for screening for cervical cancer from the age of 25 - 69. It is recommended to be done once every 2- 3 years.
Recently there is also a newer test called HPV testing which can also be done for cervical cancer screening once every 5 years.
Health screening should be a very personalised process. There is no one size fit all panel and a detailed consultation and discussion with your family doctor is highly recommended.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)