Tests You Can't Afford to Skip

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Colorectal Cancer

Very important. “A colonoscopy can remove polyps (growths inside the colon) that are not cancerous but that can turn into cancer over time,” said J. Russell Bowen, MD, CHI Health primary care provider. “If you have colon cancer, it’s better to catch it early.  Early diagnosis has a much better survival rate compared to cancer that has spread.” A new test called Cologuard is proving to be effective; it involves submitting a stool sample (obtained at home) and eliminating the need for a “cleanout.” The test is covered by Medicare and many private insurances. 

High Blood Pressure

Very important. “Blood pressure is very easy to check and can be very dangerous if allowed to go on unchecked for long periods of time,” Bowen said.

Cholesterol

Very important. Cholesterol guidelines have changed recently, according to Bowen, and now treatment is based on overall risk of heart attack and not just the lab values. To determine your individual risk, he recommended using the ASCVD Risk Estimator which is available at many sites online (it may also show up as Risk Calculator). 

Type 2 Diabetes

Very important, Bowen said, especially for people with a family history of type 2 diabetes or those who are overweight, sedentary, or have symptoms of increased urination, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst or increased appetite. 

Prostate Cancer

Bowen said prostate cancer remains a controversial issue in medicine: some groups of experts say you should get a rectal exam and PSA done while other groups say you shouldn’t do either one. This should be individually addressed with your primary care provider.

Glaucoma

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of national experts, found there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening. If you have not seen an eye doctor in several years, it would be a good idea to have a routine screening and discuss what the doctor recommends. 

Websites Bowen recommends to patients who want a trustworthy Internet source for health information include:

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