There is quite a bit of misinformation out there about what services should be included in your annual physical examination, particularly when it comes to preventative screening examinations. You could line up 10 different medical providers and they may all have differing opinions, particularly depending on the length of time they have been in practice and their patient population. So how do you know ALL your health needs are being met when you go to the doctor?
I try to stay on top of the latest recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force as well as the recommendations made by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Obstetrics and Gynecology. These three bodies are thorough. I’m including links to their websites below in case you are interested in taking a look for yourself.
So my recommendations?
- I do believe in vaccines. Even if you prefer to do a modified dosing schedule for your child, I’ll take it. The concept of herd immunity is real – and if enough people do not vaccinate, the herd gets sick. Vaccinate as you’re fortunate enough to have a healthy family member, and this healthy member is ultimately responsible to keep someone who is less fortunate in terms of health, safe. It’s incredibly scary that outbreaks of completely preventable diseases are becoming more common and in this case, pretty close to home: https://www.healio.com/…/thousands-may-have-been-exposed-to…
- If you are a male or female over the age of 30 years, you should get wellness labs at least every three years. Once you reach the age of 40 years, wellness labs need to be done annually.
- If you are a female over the age of 30 years, you should be staying on top of pap smears – particularly with regards to being screened for HPV. But should your exam come back negative, frequency of testing stretches. Women do NOT like doing this exam, so this is good news for most!
- If you are a female over the age of 40 years, you should get a mammogram. I do support annual mammograms and at least doing one every few years should be where you splurge and get the newer 3D options.
- If you are a male over the age of 40 years, I do believe in getting an annual Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. This test is about TRENDS. And it’s really the best screening we have for prostate cancer. The DRE (digital rectal examination) has fallen out of favor in primary care after recent studies have determined clinician error (go figure!). I’ll save the DRE for the urologist…
- If you are a male or a female 50 years or older, you should get a colonoscopy. Having worked in GI, I cannot support just doing a stool card, even if they have greatly improved their testing modalities in recent years. I sat through many visits with patients coming in for a simple screening procedure who ended up having pre-cancerous or cancerous polyps.
- If you have ONE cardiovascular risk factor, you should meet a cardiologist to discuss possible screening examinations. Consider this a consultation to pick their brain and become educated. These risk factors include :
- A personal history of high blood pressure for more than 10 years,
- A personal history of high cholesterol for more than 10 years
- Family history with multiple family members with events such as stroke or heart attack regardless of the age they were when they experienced their event, OR
- A family history with a single family member who experienced premature (under age 55) CAD including sudden cardiac death.
I hope you find this information helpful, as I want you to make the MOST out of your preventative health screening opportunities. Cheers to being healthy and staying healthy!
Let me help you be your best YOU yet. Call to set up an appointment today
Katie Bycura, FNP