Common Disease Screening Tests  

A screening test is what? 

When a person does not exhibit any symptoms of a condition, a screening test is performed to look for probable health issues or diseases. The objective is early identification, lifestyle modifications, or surveillance to lower the risk of disease or to identify it early enough to receive the best possible care. Screening tests are used to identify a subset of the population who should undergo additional testing to ascertain the existence or absence of disease, even if they are not thought of as diagnostic.

A screening test is useful when? 

A screening test’s value comes from its capacity to identify possible issues while reducing unclear, ambiguous, or perplexing results. Despite the fact that screening tests are not always 100% accurate, it is generally better to have them when your healthcare professional advises rather than foregoing them altogether. However, some screening tests can actually do more harm than good when administered to individuals who are not at a high risk for disease or when testing for extremely rare disorders. 

Several typical screening exams 

The timing and frequency of all screening tests should be discussed with your healthcare provider in light of your age, general health, and medical history. The subsequent are some examples of common disease screening tests:

measures of cholesterol 

All regions of the body contain the waxy substance known as cholesterol. It supports the synthesis of certain hormones, vitamin D, and cell membranes. You get cholesterol via your diet and your liver, which also produces some of it. But all of the cholesterol required by the body is produced by the liver. 

Lipoproteins, which are spherical particles that carry cholesterol and other lipids in the bloodstream, are responsible for this. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), often known as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes known as “good” cholesterol, are the 2 lipoproteins that are most widely recognized.

Blood tests are used to screen for cholesterol. The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher in those with high blood cholesterol values than in people with cholesterol levels within the normal range. According to studies, reducing cholesterol can minimize the risk of heart disease in those with high cholesterol. It’s crucial to realize, however, that persons with normal cholesterol levels can nonetheless develop heart disease.

occult blood test on feces 

Microscopical examination or chemical testing for hemoglobin (blood) in the feces are used to find fecal occult blood. Blood in the stool could be a sign of a malignant development, such as colorectal cancer. Three stool samples must be collected for the test, which next involves looking for blood under a microscope. It’s crucial to realize that the presence of blood in a stool sample might be caused by a variety of noncancerous reasons, including specific foods or medications, gastrointestinal bleeding, or hemorrhoids. Many groups, like the American Cancer Society, advise testing beginning around age 50.

Pap smear (also called Pap smears) 

Pap smears are tests that use samples of a woman’s cervix’s cells to check for cellular abnormalities that might indicate cervical cancer. In sexually active women under the age of 65, the Pap smear is a crucial screening test to find cancer at an early stage, when there are frequently no symptoms. It’s crucial to realize that while a Pap smear may be described as “abnormal,” it may not always indicate that a person has cervical cancer. Additionally, some organizations advise screening for the human papilloma virus (HPV) as part of a Pap smear in select groups.

testosterone-specific antigen (PSA) 

The prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in the blood are measured by this blood test. Antigens are any compounds that cause the immune system of a person to react. When prostate cancer is present, the levels of prostate specific antigen may be higher. It’s crucial to realize that other benign prostate disorders, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous swelling of the prostate, may also cause PSA to increase. There is significant debate about the PSA test’s function, and it is not advised for all men. PSA screening is no longer advised by several groups, including the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Before getting a PSA test, you should always talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of the procedure. Cons include a large rise in anxiety as well as unneeded tests and procedures, expenditures, and costs. 

Mammography 

After the age of 50, many organizations, including the USPSTF, advise mammography screening for breast cancer every one to two years. In conjunction with a clinical breast exam, this test is performed. 

Colonoscopy 

The USPSTF is one of many groups that advises screening for colon cancer or colon polyps at age 50, or earlier if you have a family history of the condition or other risk factors.

Obesity or pre-diabetes 

Regardless of weight, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that all individuals be evaluated for diabetes or prediabetes starting at age 45. Additionally, people who are overweight or obese and have one or more additional diabetes risk factors should be checked even if they don’t show any signs of the disease. 

Based on your medical condition, consult your healthcare provider about all of these screening tests as well as others. This is because not all healthcare providers agree on which screening tests should be performed and for which age groups.