Preventive health means screening for disease even when you feel healthy and don’t have signs of any disease or illness. Preventive screenings could detect illnesses diseases early when they are easier to treat and even prevent disease. Finding health issues at an early stage is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Here are six health screenings and tests that can help maintain good health and detect diseases in their earliest stages.
- Breast Screening: According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer affects about 1 in 8 women in the United States over the course of their lifetime and is second leading cause of cancer death in women. Mammography is an imaging test that allows physicians to detect breast tumors and cancer. A mammogram makes diagnosis possible at an early stage, even before a cancerous tumor is felt. Early detection is crucial to prevent the spread of the disease, or at least, minimize its progression. According to the American College of Radiology, breast cancer death rates have decreased nearly forty percent since 1990 as a result of screenings and better treatment.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among men. It occurs when the prostate gland begins to grow irregularly, with cancer cells and cause a weaker flow of urine or difficulty emptying the bladder. As early stages of this cancer shows no symptoms, screening is critical. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or digital rectal exam (DRE)is used to screen for warning signs of prostate cancer. If the test results show signs of prostate cancer, the urologist would conduct further testing such as a prostate ultrasound and/or needle biopsy to determine if cancer is present.
- Vascular Screening: This screening test offers an easy and painless way to assess your risk for strokes, aneurysms and other vascular problems or blockages before it is too late. If you are 50 or older with a history of smoking, cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke or diabetes or have family history of heart diseases, vascular screening could be very helpful. It helps detect blood vessel blockages or plaque buildup, which puts a person at risk for these diseases. Typical vascular screening tests include electrocardiogram, stroke/carotid artery ultrasound, echocardiogram ultrasound, abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound, and ankle brachial index.
- Biometric Screenings: Biometric screening is a quick check of weight, cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure, which provides an assessment of the patient’s overall health status. It is an important part of a health and wellness program as it provides a clinical assessment of key health measures.
- Bone Density Test: This test determines if you have osteoporosis (a disorder characterized by bones that are more fragile and more likely to break). The results of the test helps a doctor to identify decreases in bone density before you break a bone, determine your risk of broken bones (fractures), confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis, and monitor osteoporosis treatment. The US Preventive Task Force recommends that all women aged 65 and older get screened for osteoporosis with a bone density test.
- Skin Exam: Many doctors recommend regular skin exams for the early detection of skin cancer. People who are at higher risk of skin cancer, such as those with reduced immunity, those who have had skin cancer before, and those with a strong family history of skin cancer are required to do this test.
Take a smart step to improve your health with preventive screenings and encourage your friends and loved ones to do so too.