What is screening, and why is it important?

Health screenings are a way of identifying disease before the disease causes symptoms or serious health problems. In most cases, finding a disease early is beneficial because there are more treatment options, those treatment options are often easier and less expensive, and the outcomes for the patient are typically better.
The benefit of screening can depend on the quality of the screening itself, the expertise of the screener and the age at which the test is done. At Life Line Screening, as an example, we focus on vascular screening and so suggest that the screenings begin at 50, when vascular problems most typically arise.
There are lists of recommended screenings available through your doctor and online that take into account your age and gender. But make sure to consider your own situation, including your personal medical history and family history. Some tests that you may feel would be beneficial for you may not be covered by your insurance. For these tests, you need to ask specifically or seek them through a community provider.
Make sure to fully understand the nature of the test and what information you could discover. For most of us, finding out we have disease at an earlier stage is a welcome opportunity to take steps to improve our health and avoid catastrophe, but it is true that once you find something you will need to take steps to investigate what that finding may mean. Keep in mind that any screening has the potential of false-positives which could mean that you would investigate a finding and discover it really doesn't mean anything serious. This is a risk of screening.
For many, the peace of mind in finding out we are on the right track, or the possibility of discovering a health problem early, outweighs the inconvenience and anxiety of a potential false-positive, but this is a personal decision that each person should make for themselves.
Screening is checking for health problems before they cause symptoms. Colorectal cancer screening can detect cancer; polyps; nonpolypoid lesions, which are flat or slightly depressed areas of abnormal cell growth; and other conditions. Nonpolypoid lesions occur less often than polyps, but they can also develop into colorectal cancer.
If colorectal cancer screening reveals a problem, diagnosis and treatment can occur promptly. In addition, finding and removing polyps or other areas of abnormal cell growth may be one of the most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer development. Also, colorectal cancer is generally more treatable when it is found early, before it has had a chance to spread.
This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.