General Topics

By | December 13, 2023

Colonoscopy – This endoscopic procedure examines the entire colon and rectum via the anus using a thin, flexible tube with a camera. It is the primary method for screening and diagnosing colorectal cancers. During a colonoscopy, polyps can also be removed for biopsy.

Mammogram – This x-ray exam of the breasts is the standard screening tool for breast cancer, as it can detect lumps years before they can be felt. Both 2D imaging and 3D digital mammography are used. Screening mammograms are often annual starting at age 40.

Pap Smear – Also called a Pap test, it involves collecting cells from the uterine cervix during a pelvic exam to check for pre-cancerous and cancerous changes. Typically done annually or every 3-5 years depending on risk factors, Pap smears help detect cervical cancer early and prevent it.

Prostate Exam – The digital rectal exam allows the doctor to feel the prostate gland for any abnormalities. An elevated or hard prostate could indicate prostate cancer. Usually performed annually in men ages 50-70 as part of screening.

Bone Density Scan – Using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), this test measures bone mineral density in the hips, spine, or full body. It evaluates risk for osteoporosis, a disease making bones weak and prone to fracture. DEXA screenings may start at age 65.

EKG – An electrocardiogram (EKG) records heart’s electrical activity through electrodes placed on the skin. It can detect abnormal heart rhythms and signs of heart attack, heart disease or other conditions. EKGs are performed routinely during physical exams and before certain medical procedures.

Cholesterol Test – A simple blood test checks levels of total cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides. High levels may indicate risk for heart disease. Doctors usually recommend this test every 5 years in adults ages 20 and up.

Biopsy – Samples of body tissue (e.g. skin, breast, prostate, lung, or lymph node) are removed and examined under a microscope to check for diseases. Common reasons are abnormal screenings, lumps, or unexplained symptoms. Biopsies help diagnose conditions like cancer.

MRI/CT Scan – Advanced imaging tests using magnetic fields (MRI) or X-rays (CT) generate detailed pictures of organs, soft tissues, bones, and other internal structures. Useful for ruling out or staging diseases, MRIs and CTs guide treatment decisions.

STI Screening -STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis require lab testing of samples from sites of infection such as genitals, blood or urine. Regular screening ideally yearly is recommended for sexually active individuals, especially those with new/multiple partners.

These core medical tests give vital insight into health and early detection of various conditions. When combined with a full medical history and physical exam, they empower informed decisions on risk management and improving outcomes through preventive care. Regular screenings provide reassurance or detect issues at their most treatable stage.