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Have you checked out Part 1 of our Health Screening Q&A? In Part 2, we are going to be asking Dr Grace Tan more about scopes and mammograms. Such procedures are usually at the back of our mind - we know that they are effective screening tools, but more often than not we are not sure how they are helpful, and when is the best time to do them.
Read on to find out more about the various components of health screenings (such as Urine tests, Stool Occult Blood) and screening procedures!
1. What is a Urine FEME?
The Urine FEME is the Full and Microscopic Examination of a urine sample. It provides a breakdown of the contents of your urine, and determines if there is too much protein, cells, sugar, or salts within the sample. The tests allow doctors to detect simple conditions such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. Abnormal results often require more testing to uncover the source of the problem.
2. What does it mean if I have a bad microalbumin/creatinine ratio?
The urine microalbumin test detects very small levels of a blood protein (albumin) in your urine, while the creatinine is a waste product that is normally found in urine. If you have a bad microalbumin/creatinine ratio, it may indicate that you have early signs of kidney damage.
3. What is stool occult blood for?
This test looks at a sample of your stool (faeces) to check for blood. Occult blood means that you cannot see it with the naked eye. Blood in the stool means there is possibly bleeding in the digestive tract and may be caused by different conditions, including polyps, haemorrhoids, diverticulosis, ulcers, inflammation of the intestines and colorectal cancer. If blood is detected in your stool, our doctors may advice you on the need for further investigations.
4. What is the difference between an ultrasound breast, and a mammogram?
The ultrasound is a scan which uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is mainly used to help identify breast lumps or other abnormalities your doctor may have found during a physical check, or during a mammogram. Ultrasound is safe, non-invasive and does not use radiation.
The mammogram is a low-dose x-rays of the breast and it is used to detect breast cancers.
5. Is it important to go for a mammogram?
The mammogram looks for early signs of breast cancer. It is recommended for females between the age of 40-50 years old to undergo these tests every year, and for older females to undergo the tests every 2 years. If picked up early, breast cancer can be treated well and cured.
6. Should I only do a mammogram when I’m above 40 years old? If I’m younger, is it advisable?
As mentioned above, it is recommended for females between the age of 40-50 years old to undergo a mammogram every year, and for older females to undergo the tests every 2 years. Younger female breasts are denser; hence the mammogram is not as clear when performed on younger patients and therefore not recommended.
7. What is the difference between gastroscopy and colonoscopy?
A gastroscopy is a test which allows your doctor to examine the lining of your stomach. It is sometimes also referred to as an OGD (oesophagogastroduodenoscopy). It is usually recommended for the investigation of symptoms such as indigestion, frequent abdominal pain or discomfort, heartburn, vomiting, nausea, and weight loss, and is an effective method to check for conditions like stomach ulcers, stomach cancer or H. pylori bacterial infection.
A colonoscopy is a test to check the lining of the lower digestive tract i.e. the colon and rectum. It is recommended if you experience changes in your bowel habits or have symptoms, like blood in stools, diarrhoea or constipation that does not go away. In addition, colonoscopy is a very effective screening tool for colorectal cancer. Individuals with a family history or anyone above 50 years of age are encouraged to be screened for colorectal cancer, as it is the most common cancer in Singapore.
8. How do I know if I should have a gastroscopy or colonoscopy?
Our doctors will talk to you and assess the need for you to undergo these procedures, based on your age, medical conditions, family history and symptoms.
If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment down below and either Dr Grace Tan or Dr Melissa Teo will address them! We hope that you have enjoyed learning a bit more about health screenings - here at The Surgical Oncology Clinic, we offer a range of health screening packages to suit your needs: Basic, Enhanced and Enhanced+.
Feel free to contact us too!