Some screening and diagnostic tests are proven to save lives but it can be hard to know which tests are worth the time and money and which are inappropriate. It’s important to ask your doctor about the medical evidence behind each test they recommend. Three tests you should consider getting regularly are mammograms, cholesterol screenings, and colonoscopies.
Mammography can detect breast cancer in its early stages – well before a lump is big enough to be felt. Health experts recommend annual mammograms – but for whom, and how often? The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening mammograms for all women beginning at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force revised its guidelines in 2009 to recommend screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years every other year and against screening women in their 40’s of average risk.
Given the conflicting screening guidelines, it’s hard to know what to do. If you’re a healthy woman in your 40’s, ask your doctor about whether mammography is right for you.
It’s no secret that cholesterol that builds up in the blood vessels of the heart can trigger a heart attack – and the higher your level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the greater your risk. But high cholesterol causes no symptoms, so the only way you can find out you have it is to have it checked via a simple blood test.
If you’re a man over the age of 35, or a woman who’s 45 or older who smokes, has high blood pressure or diabetes, or has other risk factors for coronary artery disease, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommends cholesterol screening. Those who smoke are also sometimes recommended to undergo lung cancer screening tests.
Colonoscopies can spot colon cancer at its earliest stages, when it’s still treatable. There are two main types of colonoscopies offered- regular colonoscopies or virtual using a CT machine.
During a traditional colonoscopy, your doctor will use a flexible tube to insert a tiny camera into your colon through your rectum. They will look for polyps or other problems as the tube is withdrawn. Polyps are small growths on your colon wall. Left untreated, they can grow larger and develop into cancer over time. Your doctor can remove polyps during a colonoscopy and polyp removal is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer.
A virtual colonoscopy creates a CT (computerized tomography) scan of your abdomen and pelvis to create 3-D images. These images show polyps and other abnormalities inside your colon and rectum. Virtual colonoscopies are less invasive than the traditional method of receiving colonoscopies in that patients won’t have to worry about rectal bleeding or tears but if your doctor does find polyps,you’ll need to get a traditional colonoscopy to remove the polyp or perform a biopsy. This will be an additional test that your insurer will consider a diagnostic test, not a screening exam. Virtual colonoscopy exams will also expose you to a low dose of radiation. It is more radiation than a chest X-ray, but far less than a regular CT scan.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.