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Is Health Screening Really Necessary?

  • 03 Jun 2022
  • 3 mins

Health screening is designed to detect health conditions early—even before symptoms start. So why should health screening be done, when, and how often? We spoke to Dr. Grace Soo, Health Screening doctor at HealthConnexion, a health screening center at Farrer Park Hospital..

Preventive Medicine

There are different tests available in a health screening package.

"Like regular servicing for a car to prevent problems, Health Screening is preventive medicine to identify potential health issues early and prevent serious disease. For example, breast screening by mammogram can detect cancer in the early stages so that early intervention can ensure a good outcome," Dr. Soo explained.

Your doctor will check your health history and perform a physical exam to look for signs of health or disease. Laboratory tests include a blood test, pap smear, sperm and urine samples, and imaging procedures, like chest X-rays, ultrasounds, mammograms, CT brain, and CT coronary arteries, to detect anomalies inside your body.

“It is recommended for everyone, because a comprehensive knowledge of your health is helpful and during screening, health-promoting advice is discussed. If the tests show anomaly, I would refer my patients for further investigation with the specialists,” she added.

Many people hold the perception that they shouldn’t go to the doctor if there’s nothing wrong. Is it ever too early to do health screening?

Dr. Soo advised that prevention is always better than cure.

"Health screening is a means of health promotion, improving and fine-tuning one's health. It is never too early to have a health screen, and depending on the health status, the interval between screenings varies according to age group and clinical findings. If there are no major health issues, annual health screening is recommended," Dr. Soo added.

Health screening during pandemic times

Dr. Soo reported that monitoring one’s health through regular screening continues even during the pandemic.

"We still see many people during this period who come for health screening and have surfaced medical issues that need follow up. We provide a safe environment with our fully vaccinated staff, regular monitoring of health status, and safe-distancing measures. We have also implemented phone or zoom reviews to minimize the need to return to our clinic again,” she added.

Type of Screening

Whether to screen for a specific health condition or general health status, it can be a breeze when you consult with your health screening doctor. Screening suggestions are often based on your age, personal health, family history, and other factors.

“The common issues to screen for are diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, heart conditions, and cancer. We also screen for obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, dementia and other psychological issues. As mentioned before, screening is to detect early onset diseases before the symptoms become apparent. Kidney disease and haematological problems such as anaemia are also routinely screened for,” she said.

At each health screening, Dr. Soo would review your personal medical history and determine your specific health concerns. She would then take a detailed family history. “If you have a family history of illnesses such as colon cancer or breast cancer, you should screen with colonoscopy or mammogram.”

There are packages ranging from basic screening, suitable for young people in their 20s to their 30s, who are generally healthy with no other medical conditions, to packages for 40 years and above. For gender-specific tests, she advises mammograms, gynecological examinations with thin prep tests and an ultrasound scan of the breast for women, or imaging and prostate-specific antigen screening test for the men.

Talk to your doctor

The key message here is that screening recommendations will vary, and hence, it's essential to discuss the appropriateness of all screening tests with your doctor.

“Your doctor will review all of your risk factors and recommend the neccessary tests based on your age and your overall health profile. The recommendation is personalized and individualized.” Dr. Soo enthused.

Contributed by

Dr. Grace Soo
GP/Family Doctor
Farrer Park Hospital