Routine health screenings and early detection can help prevent serious illness. Here, the Medical Director of Hometown Health talks about the importance of annual exams.
Receiving preventive care is one of the most important steps you can take to manage your health. Why are annual exams so important? Because more information is better. Here are further insights from Dr. Richard Rosen, Medical Director with Hometown Health.
Having annual exams gives you a chance to catch up with your provider. They’re also a good time to check in on important screenings. Talk a little bit about what screenings are necessary, and when.
Tests that have been validated and re-validated over the years by worldwide medical experts include breast cancer screening, colorectal cancer screening, vaccinations for preventable diseases, and bone mineral density screening for osteoporosis. The benefits of early detection and prevention to save lives and reduce the impacts of disease have been shown over and over.
It’s ideal for most adult patients to discuss these screenings at their yearly wellness exam, or for senior patients, at their Medicare annual wellness visit. These visits are the perfect time to discuss issues that may not directly relate to a particular medical problem or immediate illness. A good rule of thumb is to schedule these appointments around your birthday each year to make sure you and your provider are both updated on your care.
Should people with chronic illnesses have additional screenings?
Yes, this depends on the patient’s chronic disease. For example, for someone with diabetes, more screenings are recommended, including yearly eye exams, blood tests for blood sugar control, kidney function, and the degree of insulin resistance. I recommend patients check with their care provider for any disease-specific screening recommendations.
Patients often miss or forget to update personal and family health histories. How does this information help care providers?
Knowing your personal and family health histories is important because it gives providers an indication of what to watch for. Just like when you’re driving and you see a sign for “caution – curve ahead,” family health histories are a warning sign to doctors of higher risks to patients.
If we know multiple people in your family have had breast or colon cancer, for example, we know to watch for that and also to do preventive testing.
We can also test sooner. In the case of a family history of colon cancer, we would begin testing at 40 instead of 50, and in some breast cancer histories, we may start testing as early as your 30s. It’s all about prevention, which begins with knowing your risks.