When your doctor says that routine health screenings might save your life, they are not exaggerating. It is true – a health screening is one of the most vital steps in taking care of your body. Early detection of diseases allows timely intervention and subsequently, timely intervention is equivalent to early treatment, lower risk of complications, and lesser treatment costs. It is a win-win situation, right? Health screening in town is being offered by different hospitals and clinics, so it is accessible and convenient for everyone. To learn which health screening tests you should get and why (and more), this article will discuss the following topics:
- What is a health screening?
- Why should I go for a health screening?
- At what age should I start to get a health screening?
- What are the types and examples of health screening tests?
- How do I select the right health screening package?
Health screening defined
A health screening involves physical examinations, tests, and other medical procedures that can detect illnesses and diseases in people, especially for those who do not feel or look sick. The first instance of a health screening occurred around the 1940s when MMR, or mass miniature radiography, was used to detect the presence of tuberculosis (TB). By the time World War 2 ended, a treatment for tuberculosis was created and introduced to the public and the use of MMR became a common practice in Western countries.
Why you should get a health screening
Most people believe that being healthy and well is equivalent to the absence of a condition or symptoms, but they are wrong. A person can have an underlying medical condition and at the same time, not display any symptoms. It could be that a disease is undetected and gradually progressing without you knowing – not until it reaches a stage where complications start to arise, or worse, when the condition is so serious that it becomes unresponsive to treatment.
The goal of a health screening in Singapore is to prevent that nightmare scenario. Some of its primary benefits include:
- Identifying if a person is at risk (whether it is low or high risk) or has any disease or condition that they are not aware about.
- Early detection often results in better management of a disease and better health outcomes.
- Age is one of the major risk factors of many life-threatening conditions, but given the option of early detection and intervention, you can be better prepared against the health threats.
- If stroke, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases run in the family, a health screening is the best line of defense – your doctor can create a treatment plan that can help mitigate the risks on your end (to prevent the disease) and provide you with timely treatments as well.
It should be noted that health screening tests are not a hundred per cent accurate in all cases. However, it is better to undergo screening tests as recommended by your healthcare provider than to pass on them completely. And if you are still having doubts about the importance of routine health screening, think of it this way: would you prefer health screenings that can detect diseases at their early stage, or would you rather choose to undergo diagnostic tests, which are done when the symptoms are already showing? It is a pretty obvious choice!
Ideal age for a health screening in Singapore
How often a person should undergo routine health screenings in Singapore depend on their health history, age, and lifestyle. Adults aged thirty and below with no family history of cancer or cardiovascular diseases are encouraged to undergo health screenings in Singapore once every two years, with an annual Pap smear test and a monthly breast self-examination. For those who are over thirty years old, a yearly health screening is highly recommended. For individuals aged fifty and above, more age-related screening tests are conducted.
Health screenings in Singapore can also start at an earlier age or conducted more often if a person has risk factors for a certain condition or disease.
Types of health screening
There are three main types of health screening tests according to the Academy of Medicine in Singapore. The first type (Type 1) is composed of tests that are beneficial to everyone, regardless of age and gender. This includes Body Mass Index (BMI), measurement of blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, and colonoscopy. The second type (Type 2) are tests that are considered as beneficial for some but not others. When recommending this Type Two tests to patients, a doctor makes the decision on individual risk factors such as family history of hereditary diseases and lifestyle (i.e., if a patient is a smoker).
Some of the examples of screening tests are:
- Blood tests – this is used to check for levels of blood glucose, uric acid, and cholesterol; levels of key nutrients (iron, folate, vitamins B12 and D3); organ functions like the liver, kidney, and thyroid; and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Stool and urine tests – blood in the stool or urine may indicate internal bleeding, particularly in the gastrointestinal system or urinary tract.
- Radiological investigations – these tests include x-rays, mammograms, and ultrasounds to check for structural anomalies and presence of stones and tumors within the body. X-rays are used to detect broken bones, mammogram is for breast cancer in women who are forty years old and above, and ultrasound is for uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and certain types of cancer in the female reproductive system. Scans are also used to identify liver cirrhosis and cancer for high-risk individuals, including alcohol drinkers and hepatitis B carriers.
- Treadmill ECG – this is recommended for people who are at risk for cardiovascular diseases.
A typical health screening session may last for 30 minutes to half a day, depending on which tests the doctor will see fit to be performed on your individual health profile. It is a good thing that health screenings are generously subsidized for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, so you do not have to worry. You can also use Medisave for cervical cancer screening and screening mammogram.
The Health Advisory Clinic
#04-49 One Raffles Place
1 Raffles Place, Singapore 048616
+65 6226 6442