Medical screenings and routine health check-ups undoubtedly save lives. Early detection of certain diseases and cancers can significantly improve your chances of survival and are often the catalyst for medical interventions which vastly enhance quality of life.
For example, regular mammograms could improve outcomes in around 30 per cent of breast cancer cases for women aged 50 to 69. Similarly, 99 per cent of all skin cancers are curable if detected and treated early.
But with so many health checks on your to-do list, it can be hard to know which ones to prioritise. Here are five essential tests you need to have, and when you should have them.
1. Blood pressure screening
Blood pressure screening tests for signs of heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Men and women should have this test once every one to two years, beginning in early adulthood, and more often if you have hypertension.
Mammograms screen for breast cancer, and women should get this test once every one to two years, beginning at age 40. Men shouldn’t neglect to check for breast cancer either.
3. Pap smear (for women) or prostate exam (for men)
Pap smears test for cervical cancer in women and need to be performed every year if you’re under 30, or every two to three years if you’ve over 30 and have had three normal pap smears for three years in a row. Prostate exams check for signs of prostate cancer in men and need to be conducted every one to two years from the age of 45.
Colonoscopies test for colorectal cancer and need to be performed every 10 years, beginning at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should have a colonoscopy 10 years before the age your relative was diagnosed.
5. Skin cancer check
Skin exams look for signs of melanoma and other skin cancers. You should get a professional full-body skin cancer check every year starting in very early adulthood, or more often if you notice any new or changing spots on your skin. You should also monitor your own skin at home for any symptoms which might indicate skin cancer.