For the past month or so, our family has been dealing with the discovery and subsequent treatment of some health issues that Dave was experiencing. Things are going well now, but the whole episode has given me a newfound appreciation for just how important regular health checkups and screenings are.
Today’s post will focus on the many benefits of regular health checkups and what they should entail, and I’ll also be sharing details about the events that led us to find out about Dave’s health issues. Not only do I want to share the story with you to keep you in the loop about what’s going on in my life, but because I hope it will underscore the very real reasons why everyone should be going in for their regular health checkups.
It all started around six weeks ago, when my husband Dave saw his doctor for a routine checkup that resulted in a diagnosis of “dangerously high blood pressure.” His doctor recommended Dave do a few other routine tests and screenings to determine if his high blood pressure was an isolated issue, and one of the recommended tests was a standard colon cancer screening.
They found a polyp during the screening, and a biopsy confirmed that it was colon cancer. Less than a week after the cancer diagnosis, he was in the hospital receiving colon resection surgery to remove the section of his colon where the cancer was found.
Thankfully, further tests after his surgery revealed the cancer was limited to that single polyp that was removed during his surgery. His prognosis is good, but the situation will be closely monitored for the foreseeable future.
Since this was our first close-to-home experience with a very serious health scare for either of us since we got married, we feel very fortunate it turned out as well as it did. And a big part of why it turned out okay in the end was because Dave got a checkup and his recommended screenings!
The Benefits Of Regular Health Checkups
Regular checkups with your doctor can benefit your health in many ways, including:
- Finding potentially life-threatening health issues early before they cause a problem
- Early treatment of health conditions, which increases the odds of a good outcome
- Regular monitoring of existing health issues, which lowers the risk of worsening symptoms or complications
- Staying up-to-date on vaccinations and screenings
- Limiting extra healthcare costs associated with treating complicated or serious conditions that weren’t caught early
- Developing and maintaining an open, honest relationship with your primary care physician
- Learning new ways to live a healthy, longer life and improving your health
What Will I Be Screened For?
Both men and women are typically screened for the following:
- High blood pressure
- Obesity, based on your body mass index
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol and drug misuse
- HIV, for adults ages 15 to 65 and anyone at high risk
- Hepatitis C, for anyone born between 1945 and 1965
- Type 2 diabetes, for anyone with risk factors or a family history
- Colorectal cancer, starting at age 50
- Lung cancer with a yearly low-dose CT scan, for adults ages 55 to 80 who smoke or have smoked in the last 15 years
Screenings Specific To Women
Women may also be screened for the following:
- Intimate partner violence, for women of childbearing age
- Mammogram for breast cancer, between ages 50 and 74
- Pap smear for cervical cancer, between ages 21 and 65
- High cholesterol, starting at age 45
- Osteoporosis, starting at age 65
Screenings Specific To Men
Men may also be screened for the following:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm, from ages 65 to 75 with a history of smoking
- Prostate exam, starting at age 50 if you and your doctor decide you need them
- High cholesterol, starting at age 35
When you’re with your doctor having your checkup and screenings done, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain something in simpler terms or in more detail. And use your phone or a notebook to take notes!
How Much Do Checkups And Screenings Cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and insurance companies are required to cover preventive services without copayments or deductibles. However, Medicare and some insurance companies don’t always classify routine health checkups as preventive services.
They may not fully cover the cost of a visit if it includes tests or screenings they don’t consider to be preventative services , so look at your insurance benefits closely to find out what kinds of tests and screenings are 100% covered by your insurance.
After hearing Dave’s story, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I’m suddenly very vocal about the importance of regular health checkups. Because of checkups and screenings, my husband is now cancer-free and has a doctor who will be monitoring him from now on to make sure it doesn’t return.
So please, do me and everyone who loves you a tremendous favor and get go in for a checkup if you haven’t had one recently. It doesn’t take long, and it may just save your life!