Taking Ownership of Your Health

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Listening to Benjamin Franklin’s advice, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” may have been able to fix the current healthcare crisis. In this statement, he wasn’t referring to gold or the British currency, but rather about preparing to prevent. Many of today’s healthcare issues could be improved by focusing on preventing the problem rather than dealing with it after the fact.

Physicians encourage their patients to follow simple guidelines to prevent illness. This includes not smoking or quitting smoking, exercising and stretching, eating a balanced diet in relation to activity, finding a hobby or other safe activity that is motivating and challenging, and participating in recommended health-screening tests. While many of these recommendations can be accomplished with lifestyle choices, health screenings require the help of medical professionals.

Your doctor will discuss these tests, which should also include age and medically appropriate vaccines, during your annual physical exam. It should be noted that health-screening tests cannot treat a disease, but are recommended because early detection is crucial in effectively treating the illness. Vaccines, on the other hand, are meant to prevent a disease or assist your body in fighting it off. In discussions with your doctor, knowledge of your family medical history plays a vital role in proactively preventing an increased risk of developing a certain disease.

Preventative screenings are divided into two main categories: gender and age. While some cancers and illnesses are specific to men or women, lung cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age or gender. One of the newest recommended screening tests is the lung cancer screening. Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, but the American Cancer Society statistics show that more people die of lung cancer each year than colon, prostate, and breast cancers combined. While the best way to prevent it is by not smoking, screening tests focus on the detection of asymptomatic early-stage lung cancer to improve the survival rate and to try to prevent cancer-related deaths in high-risk patients.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends an annual lung cancer screening using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for adults between the ages of 55 and 80 who have smoked a pack a day for 30 years or the equivalent, and currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years. Other techniques have been used to screen for lung cancer, but the LDCT technology has a greater sensitivity for detecting the cancer at this early stage.

Since the risk of developing lung cancer increases with age and exposure to tobacco smoke, the most effective way to prevent lung cancer has always been smoking cessation. If you are a smoker, make an appointment with an experienced medical professional who can discuss medical options to help you quit smoking and determine if you are at a high enough risk to need a lung cancer screening test.


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Written by Gary Visser

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