Sometimes we are in complete ignorance of whatever’s ailing us or our loved ones until it’s too late. The fact is that several tests can reveal the truth about our health. This age-old adage well and truly applies to preventive health tests, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Here are the eight most important pathology tests that can save your life if you get them done in time.
1) Screening for Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer, or colorectal cancer as it’s known in medical circles, is the third leading cause of death in women and the second leading cause of death in men. Bowel cancer is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths in the US alone in 2017. Patients who either have a history of colorectal cancer in the family or suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease can develop bowel cancer. Pathologists screen the patient’s stool sample for traces of blood, and if found, the test is repeated for confirmation. This is followed by a colonoscopy to confirm or deny the existence of bowel cancer.
2) Screening for Liver Diseases
Liver Function Tests (LFT) are a group of blood tests that measure the proteins and enzymes and other substances that our bodies produce or excrete. This group of tests is performed simultaneously, and the overall results are analyzed to get the true picture of the patient’s liver health. LFT tests provide the base for further diagnostic testing. Getting LFT done as one gets older is a good way of preventing deadly liver diseases and even liver failure, which can seriously shorten a person’s life.
3) Screening for Skin Cancer
Watch out for ugly and not-so-ugly moles on your body. If you notice them changing color, shape or size, get them checked by your doctor. Some moles can develop into a rare form of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the world and kills thousands of people each year in several countries. If detected early, it is possible to prevent the spread of this deadly disease in the body. A piece of the suspect mole is usually cut in surgical conditions and a biopsy is performed to assess the nature of the mole.
4) Screening for Heart Disease
High levels of cholesterol can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. A simple Lipid Profile test will let your doctor know your cholesterol levels. It’s possible for a person to have high cholesterol without actually knowing about it. If your cholesterol level is high and you happen to also have steady high blood pressure, you’ll be put on red alert for a possible stroke or cardiac arrest. It’s possible to reduce your risk for both these killer conditions by modifying your diet and performing healthy exercise. Heart disease kills one out every 4 people every year in the US alone.
5) Screening for Blood Abnormalities
Getting a Full Blood Count (FBC) test regularly points to any abnormalities that may exist in your blood. Our blood contains oxygen-carrying red blood cells, infection-combatting white blood cells and blood-clotting platelets. Any abnormality found in the expected levels of these elements can indicate various conditions, from anemia to leukemia. If you are feeling inexplicably tired or if your wounds are not healing in time, hurry and get an FBC done. Early testing and follow-up not only prevent serious conditions, but even prevent early deaths.
6) Testing for Iron Deficiencies
Too little iron in the blood causes anemia, but what happens when there’s too much iron in the blood? This causes a condition known as iron overload or haemochromatosis. This condition increases the risk of several serious conditions including heart failure, liver disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is generally not possible to detect iron overload until specific tissue damage occurs. Doctors prescribe an iron overload test in cases of symptoms like frequent fatigue, irregular periods, abdominal pain and heart disease.
7) Screening for Multiple Disorders
A urinalysis is a fairly common pathological test that is performed with urine specimen collection to rule out a number of issues. Doctors can discover if you have a urine infection, a metabolic disorder like diabetes or a serious kidney disorder. Urinalysis helps medicos know exactly how well your kidneys are operating. For example, the presence of red cells in your urine could be indicative of kidney disease. A simple urinalysis can detect advance warning signs of deadly health scares and give you the chance to prevent early death. Never underestimate the importance of getting your urine tested from time to time.
8) Screening for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is a deadly disease found in women and takes thousands of lives each year. Such deaths can easily be prevented by a proactive cervical cancer swab test. In this test, the gynecologist gently opens the mouth of the cervix, inserts a speculum into it and takes a smear of the cervical lining. It’s a slightly uncomfortable, but not a painful test. This test is prescribed to all women between the ages of 25 and 64 years. If abnormal changes are noticed in the cervical sample, further investigation and treatment will ensue.
Preventive pathological tests are recommended for various age groups among men and women. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple blood or urine test to determine if something serious is underfoot. Often, it will turn out to be nothing, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. As long as you remember this, you’ll enjoy good health for a long time to come.