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Here is the most important thing you need to know about health screening tests, you should not do a test in medicine unless you know what your healthcare provider will do with that test results. So, if the test results turn out abnormal, where do you go from there?
There is a definition in medicine and science of what constitutes a health screening test. Firstly, it has to be accessible and relatively easy as well as inexpensive. And most importantly, if the blood health screening per se detects something, it has to ideally really save your life.
Health Screening Tests Millenials Should Pay Attention To
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Most people don’t know that colorectal cancer is actually on the rise in young individuals, which means those who fall in the age category of the 20s, 30s and 40s. These ordinarily don’t get the routine colonoscopy at age 50. Their symptoms are generally the same as those of another generation with colorectal cancer, which could be blood in their stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, and a change in bowel habits. Unfortunately, some doctors may fail to think of colorectal cancer when a younger person has those symptoms as it’s not accustomed for the younger population to get it.
Mental Health Screening
To date, this has become the most crucial issue with screening. Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental illnesses. As published in The Star (July 2021), in Malaysia, an overwhelming 1,708 suicide cases were reported between 2019 and May 2021, with 1,427 or about 83.5% committed by women, say the police.
Of the total cases, 51% or 872 cases involved those aged between 15 and 18, while 668 cases or about 39% involved individuals aged between 19 and 40. Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan said an average of two suicide cases was reported every day from 2019 to May 2021.
“There were 609 suicide cases in 2019, while in 2020, 631 cases were reported. From January to May 2021, 468 cases were reported,” he said.
Comm Abd Jalil said Johor had the highest number of cases in 2019 and 2020 with a total of 101, while in 2021, Selangor surpassed 117 cases. He added that 75.1% of the cases were reported committed by hanging, followed by jumping off a building (13.6%) and drinking poison (5.7%). He also listed three main factors related to suicide cases – family problems, depression and financial troubles.
When you see your doctor or healthcare provider, they should ask about your mood. Then, if and when it is brought up properly, that should be a completely safe space for you to express yourself honestly. For example, reply earnestly, “Actually, I have been feeling a little depressed.” or “I have been feeling quite anxious lately.”
Most primary care physicians or health care providers should be able to deal with the first tier of that, either short term or long term. And again, there are various treatments or management options that could range from talk therapy or counselling, support groups and medication which most primary care physicians should and could be able to start.
When you speak about depression or anxiety, you should remember to think of it no differently than if you are talking about blood pressure. If you have depression or anxiety, it should be addressed and treated accordingly as to how if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will manage it.
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Screening
Firstly, it is recommended that anyone over the age of 18 is regularly screened for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or at least tested once in their lifetime. If you are at elevated risk of having multiple unprotected sexual partners or high-risk sexual practices, you should undergo screening more often.
Did you know that Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C is part of sexually transmitted infection screening? Those are simple, simple blood tests. But unfortunately, most people infected with Hepatitis C don’t often know they have it, and it is CURABLE.
And then Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are among the most commonly occurred sexually transmitted infections that people don’t realise they have until screened. Often, it gives zero symptoms and can cause infertility in women.
Skin Cancer Screening
People of all skin colours can and do get skin cancer. However, if you are fair-skinned, have a lot of freckles or moles, or have a family history of skin cancer or a genetic mutation that increases your risk, you are categorised into a unique group.
If you fall in the average group, you should have a complete skin screening at some point in your life, especially when you get around 35 to 40 years old; consider doing it then by getting a dermatologist to do a complete body checkup.
If you noticed anything changing on your body, such as suspicious moles or markings, get it checked out. However, do not be alarmed when you make an appointment for a skin check if things get biopsied as expected.
Blood Pressure Screening
Essentially, all adults, both men and women, over the age of 18 should be screened for high blood pressure. When you go to see your doctor, if you have a family history of high blood pressure or are overweight/obese, it should be checked more frequently. When you have high blood pressure, it does not give you any symptoms, and you can be walking around, minding your own business with elevated blood pressure for years which may damage your entire body literally.
Have you ever had or considered a formal eye exam? Although a full eye exam involves the dreaded dilation, the liquid eye drops where you walk out, and you can’t tolerate light no matter if you have sunglasses on, etc. – a full eye exam entails and is important.
Ophthalmologists will check for everything, from abnormal blood vessels in the eye, damage to the cornea or retina, glaucoma; you name it! Most healthcare providers recommend that you start screening at age 18 and no later than age 40.
If you have any family history of eye issues or have been experiencing any eye concerns, you would want to do an eye exam more often.