Medical Screening: What Test Should I Get?

Medical Screening: What Test Should I Get?

Screening tests attempt to detect disease before systems begin.  Therefore, it’s important to get the right screening test as part of a good preventative care plan. Tests should have adequate sensitivity and specificity to detect disease without excessive false positive; however, there is on-going research which conditions should be screened for and which tests to use.  As a result, recommended screening tests can change with time.

The tests listed here are recommended for the general population, but your doctor may recommend other screenings based on your personal history.  For example, colorectal cancer screening is recommended for both men and women ages 50 to 75 years of age.  If you have a sufficient family history of colon cancer, your first screening may be earlier and the frequency of the test may be more often.

Keep in mind that no tests are perfect.  Screening tests can be harmful to people.  A false positive test that can show a disease when there is not one present can lead to worry, anxiety, extra testing, and high cost.  A false negative test that shows normal when there is a disease present can lead to a false since of security.  Some screening tests are invasive and carry a small inch of their own complication.

With all of the negative reasons in mind, you may be asking yourself, “why would I want to get one of these tests?”  The short answer is they are efficient at detecting disease and just may save your life.  Many diseases are much easier to treat in an early stage.  Often, detection and treatment early in the disease can also prevent other types of disease from forming.  The following are the current common preventative care screening tests recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF):

  • Height and Weight
  • Blood Pressure
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Use
  • Depression
  • Diabetes ( especially if you have high blood pressure)
  • Bone Mineral Density Test: In women less than 65 years old and at risk women during the age of 60 – 64 years old.
  • Cholesterol Pressure: Ages less than 35 years old or less than 20 years old. Those with cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Colorectal Cancer: men and women ages 50 – 75 years of age.
  • Mammograms: Every 1 – 2 years for all women ages 40 years and above
  • PAP Smear Test: At least every 3 to 5 years until the age 65
  • Chlamydia Infection: Sexually active women less than and equal to 25 years and older
  • Aortic Abdominal Aneurysm: On time for men during ages 65 – 75 who have ever smoked
  • HIV Screening: A voluntary routine screening for ages 13 – 64 years of age

Regardless of which screening tests you have, be sure to communicate with your doctor, share any health concerns and be mindful of changes in your body and overall health.

Article Provided By: Matthew Degner, MD Internal medicine
Cascade Medical Clinic: 1375 N 10th Ave., Suite B 503-769-7151
Santiam Hospital Stayton, Oregon

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