Take Time for a Tune-up
contributed by Mission
Hospital of Mission Viejo
may service your automobile regularly, make
home repairs promptly and even take your pets
for shots as needed. But are regular medical
checkups on your list of things to do?
most adults, an annual checkup is worth the
effort. Michael Harris, M.D., an oncologist
at Mission Hospital wishes more people realized
the importance of regular checkups. "The importance
is for early detection of disease to better
enable a cure. Routinely, the woman who skips
her mammogram one year, is often found to have
a substantial lesion when the next screening
is done." Waiting until there is something wrong
can be costly in time, treatment and, in the
event of a cancer diagnosis, it could mean your
checkups establish a bond between patients and
physicians, which can be an advantage if serious
illness, such as cancer strikes. According to
Dr. Harris, even younger adults should visit
their physician once a year. "Doctors are the
experts at disease detection and prevention.
You should trust them to determine how often
you should be seen." The following annual screenings
are recommended for men, women and children
who are in general good health:
and Women Under 50:
Height, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol
levels should be checked annually. Normal blood
pressure is less than 140/90. Total cholesterol
should be under 200 and "good" HDL cholesterol
should be 35 or above.
doctor may give you advice about exercise and
diet, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs and
sexually transmitted diseases. A Tetanus shot
is recommended once every ten years. It's also
a good idea to have your skin examined for signs
of skin cancer.
and Women over 50:
Both men and women should be tested for colorectal
cancer. This is done with a sigmoidoscopy and
digital rectal exam every five to ten years.
Alternatively, many doctors recommend a baseline
colonoscopy at age 50 to be repeated every five
to 10 years. A fecal occult blood test is also
used to detect hidden blood in the stool that
may indicate polyps in the colon or a digestive
Tests for Men:
A testicular self-exam should be done monthly
under age 50. Men over the age of 50 may be
advised to have prostate cancer screenings.
These include a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific
antigen, or PSA, blood test.
Tests for Women:
A woman should have an annual Pap smear to screen
for cervical cancer after age 18, or as soon
as she is sexually active. Monthly breast self-exams
are also recommended, along with a clinical
breast exam during checkups. Starting at age
40, the American Cancer Society recommends an
annual breast X-ray, or mammogram, to check
for breast cancer.
may also discuss folic acid requirements, calcium
intake, and bone density scans or hormone replacement
therapy as needed.
Kids may not consider shots the best part of
a doctor visit, but they're one of the most
important parts of a child's checkup. Immunizations
protect children against hepatitis B, polio,
measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, diphtheria,
tetanus, and even chickenpox. All of these immunizations
need to be given before children are 2 years
old in order for them to be protected during
their most vulnerable period. Check with your
pediatrician or local health department for
the recommended immunization schedule.
pediatrician should check to make sure your
child is growing and developing properly. Advice
on dental health, healthy eating habits and
accident prevention is also important.
children may require a physical examination
to participate in sports. Your physician can
also give you tips on talking to older children
about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco,
as well as sexually transmitted diseases and
all, be honest and detailed with your physician.
If you don't, it's like shadowboxing; the doctor
treats what he thinks he sees. Adds Dr. Harris,
"Your physician has dedicated his/her life to
caring and for patients and their relationship
with you is private. Ideally, your doctor is
not only a trusted partner in healthcare, but
over the years becomes a friend. They are available
for your questions and concerns and if they
cannot provide the information you need, they
will know where to go to get answers."
Did You Know?
Three times more men than women have not seen
a doctor in the past year.
in three men have no regular doctor.
in five women have no regular doctor.
of Americans don't get yearly physicals.
routine physical examinations have two parts:
the interview, a survey of current concerns
and past medical history; and the hands-on part,
when the doctor checks for physical symptoms
or administers medical tests. To maximize your
time during the interview, take the following
steps to prepare for your examination.
be afraid to ask for an explanation of tests
and how the information will benefit you.
prepared to give details of any specific problems.
a list of questions before your visit and
take notes so you will remember important
your doctor for regular checkups to establish
a communicative relationship.
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Mission Hospital is a 340-bed acute care, full-service
facility serving all of south Orange County
and houses the region's designated trauma center,
one of only three in the county. Located in
Mission Viejo, Mission Hospital offers a complete
array of top-quality healthcare services.
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