How Often Should I Do Health Screening?

How Often Should I Do Health Screening?

Key Takeaways

  • You are encouraged to undergo health screening once every 1 to 3 years.
  • Frequency of health screening may be increased for individuals who are at higher risks.
  • If in doubt, please talk to a doctor to understand more about your personal risk factors and family history, and to get a personalised recommendation.

Health screenings are vital preventive measures that play a critical role in early detection and prevention of diseases. By identifying health issues before they become serious, individuals can take timely action, potentially saving lives and improving quality of life.

Regular health screenings can uncover conditions that might not yet show symptoms, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, making them a cornerstone of modern preventive healthcare.

Health Screening for Different Age Groups

Children and Adolescents

Health screenings begin at birth with newborn screening tests and continue with regular check-ups during childhood and adolescence. These screenings ensure that any developmental disorders, hearing or vision problems, and other health issues are detected and addressed early.

Individuals Aged 18 Years and Above

For adults in this age group, basic screenings are recommended every 1-3 years, depending on one's health status and risk factors. These screenings can include obesity and blood pressure checks.

Individuals Aged 40 Years and Above

For adults in this age group, basic screenings include obesity, blood pressure checks, cholesterol level assessments, and diabetes screenings.

Individuals Aged 50 Years and Above

As we age, the risk for certain health issues increases, making more frequent screenings crucial. Older adults should consider annual screenings for conditions that are more prevalent in later life, such as colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.

Colorectal cancer screening can be conducted with the use of faecal immunochemical test (checking for the presence of blood in stool) or colonoscopy.

Recommended Frequency of Colorectal Cancer Screening

Screening Frequency
Faecal Immunochemical Test Once a year
Colonoscopy Once every five to ten years

Women’s Health Screenings

Women should undergo mammograms and cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests and HPV tests) at recommended intervals to detect breast and cervical cancer early.

Criteria Cancer Type Test Type Frequency
Women aged 25-69 yrs, who have had sexual intercourse Cervical cancer Pap test (for 25 to 29 years old) Once every three years
HPV test (for 30 years old and above) Once every five years
Women aged 50-69 yrs Breast cancer Mammogram Once every two years

Men’s Health Screenings

Dr Leonard Leng of ATA Medical using a stethoscope to listen to patient's internal sounds from his chest.
Dr Leonard Leng of ATA Medical having a consultation session with patient after his medical check-up.

Men at high risk of prostate cancer may also consider the following tests for prostate cancer screening.

Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA)

The Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, a small gland that sits below a man's bladder. High levels of PSA can be an indicator of prostate cancer, but elevated PSA levels can also be caused by other conditions, such as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, an enlarged prostate), which are not cancer.

Ultrasound Prostate

Ultrasound Prostate, is a procedure where a small probe is inserted into the rectum to take images of the prostate gland. The ultrasound test uses sound waves to create a picture of the prostate gland, helping to measure its size and assess any abnormalities. This test is sometimes used in conjunction with a PSA test to help diagnose prostate cancer, guide biopsies, or monitor the growth of the prostate over time.

Special Considerations for Health Screenings

  • Family History and Genetic Risk Factors: Individuals with a family history of certain diseases may require earlier and more frequent screenings. Genetic testing may also be recommended to assess risk for conditions like breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancer.
  • Pre-existing Health Conditions: Those with pre-existing health conditions may need regular monitoring based on their condition and medical advice, ensuring that any complications or progressions are caught early.
  • Regular vs. As-needed Screenings: While some screenings are routine, others may be prompted by symptoms, changes in health status, or specific concerns.

The Role of Lifestyle and Risk Factors in Determining Screening Frequency

CT Scan Machine at located at ATA Medical (Camden).
Female patient undergoing CT Scan procedure at ATA Medical (Camden).

Lifestyle choices and risk factors, including smoking, diet, and physical activity levels, can significantly influence the need for and frequency of certain health screenings. For instance, individuals with a history of smoking may require more frequent screenings for lung cancer, often through low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans.

Low-dose CT scans are recommended for lung cancer screening because they can detect abnormalities or nodules in the lungs at an early stage, when the disease is more treatable. This type of screening is particularly important for former or current smokers, as they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Adjusting the frequency of these screenings based on individual risk factors, such as the intensity and duration of smoking history, ensures a targeted approach to lung cancer prevention and early detection.

Consulting Your Healthcare Provider

Creating a personalised screening schedule is essential for addressing individual health needs and risks. Healthcare providers can offer tailored advice based on a comprehensive assessment of one's health history, lifestyle, and risk factors.

Personalising Your Health Screening Schedule

The frequency of health screenings should be personalised, taking into account age, gender, health status, lifestyle choices, and familial risk factors. Regular consultations with your doctor ensure that individuals receive the right screenings at the right time, maximising the benefits of preventive healthcare. By adopting a proactive approach to health screenings, individuals can play an active role in managing their health and wellbeing, leading to better health outcomes & quality of life.