Have questions?

Phone: 800-349-7272
Fax: 855-456-0249

Take Back Your Health: Medical Tests to Consider

With the new year still upon us, you may find yourself particularly interested in your health. This happens for most people. New year, new you, right? Before that motivation dwindles, take control of your health by setting up all of your medical visits for the year. You might be thinking the whole year, that’s a lot! You’re right, but let’s face it, when the summer sun hits in Minnesota, you won’t be thinking about your next colonoscopy. 

Okay, maybe you try never to think about that but you should! Taking care of your health not only impacts you but those around you. Many illnesses in life can be detected early or even prevented through regular screenings. So, if not for you, for your loved ones, make 2024 the year you take back your health.

Let’s start with the easy visits, your annual screenings.

When most people make to-do lists, they check off the easiest things to do first. The same method can be applied here. Your yearly exams should include an overall health check-up with your primary doctor, dental cleanings x 2, and a vision screening. There may be some exceptions to this rule, but generally, every individual from 0 to 100 should consider these visits as part of their annual screening.

It’s true when they say things can change in an instant, especially when it comes to your health. Not only do yearly check-ins act as a baseline if your health starts to take a turn, but they also allow the opportunity to get in tune with your body. Remember to ask the following questions when you’re at your annual screening with your primary care doctor. 

1. Do I need additional health screenings? 

Routine Screenings: When you go for an annual physical, your doctor will look at health markers such as weight, blood pressure, family history, etc. This will give them the proper baseline to suggest further screenings on things like thyroid, cholesterol, or even a comprehensive metabolic panel. 

Preventative Screenings: Recommendations for preventive screenings to do with the heart, breast, or cancer change often but are typically based on a combination of your age and personal risk level. If you are 40 or older, communicating with your doctor about your specific needs for preventive screenings is of the utmost importance. 

2. What do my numbers mean?

As we mentioned earlier, you are the expert on your body. However, you may not be an expert in understanding numbers, charts, and medical terminology. Ask the questions even if they seem silly. If something doesn’t make sense, ask your doctor to explain it. There are no stupid questions when it comes to your health. 

3. Am I at risk of any medical conditions?

Many factors must be considered when assessing your risk for certain medical conditions. Your doctor will look at your age, lifestyle, ethnicity, family history, and other factors that may affect your risk for certain ailments. It’s important to be forthcoming about your circumstances so your physician can see the total picture. 

4. What do I need to work on?

You may come away with homework, and that’s okay! Your yearly physical is meant to find gaps and red flags. Before you leave, make sure you have a game plan with your physician to improve in any areas if needed.

Now, onto the preventative screenings.

Preventative screenings may sound scary, but they are there to do the opposite. Nothing is worse than hearing, “You have [insert any health condition here].” Preventive screenings offer early detection, which can be the key to keeping you healthy. Recommendations for preventative screenings will vary based on individual risk factors, but these are the current guidelines for a healthy adult with no family history of disease. 

Skin Exams – Once A Year

With 1 out of 5 Americans developing skin cancer by age 70, skin exams are recommended as part of your yearly routine. During a skin exam, your dermatologist will look at any worrisome moles, lumps, or bumps you may have. If needed, your primary care doctor can refer you to a dermatologist. 

Colonoscopy – Once Every 10 Years

Starting at age 45, you should receive a colonoscopy every ten years if you have no other risk factors. While colonoscopies get a bad rap, the procedure can save your life. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 152,810 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Prevention is key. You can have your next colonoscopy at the St. Cloud Surgical Center; no referral is necessary

Mammograms – Varies By Age

While every woman should be doing personal breast exams weekly when you reach a certain age, modern medicine steps in. There is much debate around this subject; however, per the American Cancer Society guidelines, women 40 and older should stick to the following schedule. 

  • Women aged 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
  • Women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue yearly screening.
  • Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live ten more years or longer.

Cervical Cancer – Varies By Age

For women ages 21 and older, a cervical cancer check should be completed by your primary care doctor or OBGYN on the following schedule. 

  • Age 21 you should receive your first screening and have one yearly for the next three years. 
  • Age 24 – 29 you should receive a screening every three years. 
  • Age 30 – 64 you should receive a screening every five years. 

Prostate Exams – Every Three to Five Years

Not to be confused with a colonoscopy, prostate exams are important for men 45 and older. The average age for a prostate exam is 50; however, depending on your family history and other risk factors, some doctors recommend an exam at 45. If your first exam comes back without concern, you can expect to have your second exam in 3 to 5 years.

Diabetes Screenings – Every Three Years

Diabetes Screenings are becoming more common as the U.S. continues to battle obesity. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends anyone between the ages of 40 to 70 who are overweight or obese start screening for high A1C levels. After your first screening, and if risk factors do not decrease, patients should receive a screening every three years.

You may be asking yourself what routine and preventative screenings have to do with my surgery at the St. Cloud Surgical Center. Patients need to be in good health to be a candidate for many procedures at our center. From pre-op to post-op and beyond, we care about our patients’ success; one risk factor is poor health. 

At St. Cloud Surgical Center, we require most of our patients to undergo a preoperative exam. In that exam, we can deny you surgery for any reason. We don’t enjoy this as our goal is to help you feel better. By following the recommendations laid out in this blog, we believe you’ll be in a great place to not only qualify for surgery but also have a better handle on your health as a whole. It’s not too late to make 2024 the year you take back your health!