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To Screen Or Not To Screen?


To screen or not to screen... That is the question.

Image by London Theatre Direct


My friends and I are soon turning quadragenarian, and this question often comes up during our conversations. “Should I go for health screening?”, “When should I start screening?”, “Where is the best place to get my mammogram?”, “ Should I screen for everything?” are common questions I get asked.


Health screening is precisely what it says it is – a sifting of a person’s health status, when all seems to be well. Performed for early diagnosis of diseases that have yet to show, health screening aims to pick up diseases early, so that treatment can be started ASAP, in order to achieve good health. Hence, it is conducted on people who are asymptomatic and consider themselves to be healthy! But this is also where the “scary part” starts - these tests may discover that this so-called healthy individual, is potentially ill. However, let me assure you that when screening tests are performed with care and consideration, there are a huge number of advantages, and one should not delay testing, for fear of the unknown.


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that screening should follow specific principles, including: a. screening should be done only for an important heath problem of serious consequence, b. the screening test must be reliable enough, and not cause harm, and c. there must be an acceptable and effective treatment for the disease when detected at an early stage.


While there are tests like the mammogram, pap smear and colonoscopic screening that are supported by scientific evidence, there are also many tests which when done, can lead to considerable physical and psychological harm to those tested. At our clinic, we are guided by The Screening Test Review Committee Report, and have come up with 3 easy-to-understand health screening bundles, which are evidence-based, comprehensive and useful for all individuals.


Talk to us here to find out more.


Written by Dr Grace Tan

The Surgical Oncology Clinic

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1 Farrer Park Station Road

Farrer Park Medical Centre

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Singapore 217562

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