Lifesaving screening tests include Pap smears and blood pressure checks. They are able to detect diseases that you have no reason to think are present. Early identification may allow for the treatment of the disease while it is still treatable and before irreversible complications develop.
Some screening tests prevent the disease for which they were developed. For instance, colonoscopies and Pap smears can detect precancerous abnormalities that can be treated to prevent their growth and transformation into cancer. And each year in the United States, missed screening tests contribute to thousands of preventable deaths. A new study on Pap smears reveals that the benefits diminish after a certain point. And many of us might benefit from a greater grasp of the limitations of screening and how specialists determine when individuals should stop undergoing routine screening tests.
Even the most effective screening tests have limits. It is able to miss the disease it is designed to detect (false-negative results). Or, it may produce anomalous outcomes when no disease is present (false-positive results).
Importantly, as people age, both life expectancy and screening advantages tend to diminish. Numerous illnesses found by routine screenings, such as prostate cancer and cervical cancer, generally present problems only after a period of time. A person in their 80s is more likely to pass away from another deadly ailment than from cervical cancer or prostate cancer. Moreover, many diseases, such as cervical cancer, become less prevalent with age.
As a result, many screening tests are no longer suggested indefinitely. At some point in your life, your doctor may inform you that you no longer need to repeat a screening test, even if you've grown accustomed to it.
Many expert guidelines for common screening tests contain an "end age" at which it is reasonable for individuals to discontinue receiving the test. For example:
- Mammogram: age 75
- Pap smear: age 65
- chest CT scan (recommended for persons with a considerable smoking history): age 80
- Colonoscopy: age 75
Typically, those without symptoms, indicators, or strong suspicion of disease undergo screening testing. Frequently, people search for a condition that is probably not present. For the majority of screening tests, guidelines produced by specialists and supported by evidence indicate when to begin and stop screening.
However, guidelines are simply broad advice, and individual tastes are significant. If avoiding a screening test will cause you undue concern or if taking the test will provide you with significant peace of mind, it may be permissible to take the test after the suggested age limit. Ensure that you are aware of potential drawbacks, such as additional testing and difficulties.
Don't be hesitant to ask your physician when your next screening tests are due, but don't forget to also inquire if they are no longer necessary.Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-nature-sky-sunset-53364/