Health screenings are incredibly beneficial and come with an array of advantages. Screenings can detect a problem early before you have any symptoms — which can help you make better-informed decisions about your health. They reduce the risk of a minor condition developing into something more serious. In some circumstances, such as with cervical screening, an early check-up can prevent dangerous complications and even deaths.
Before booking your health screening, it’s worth keeping in mind that no screening is 100% accurate. Occasionally, you could be told that you have a problem even though you don’t (known as a false positive) or that you don’t have a problem when you actually do (known as a false negative). For some people, health screenings can cause considerable worry and anxiety. Even if a screening gives you the all-clear, there is always a chance that you may develop the condition in the future.
Health Screening via the NHS
In the UK, the NHS provides a limited number of screenings to its patients after considering if the potential benefits outweigh the harm. An independent expert group called the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) advises the NHS, in all four UK countries, on which screening programmes to offer. For instance, all women aged between 25 to 64 are offered cervical screening to check for any unusual cells in the cervix. Breast cancer screening is offered to all women aged 50 to 70 to detect breast cancer earlier. A third example is diabetic eye screening, in which all diabetics above the age of 12 are checked for early signs of diabetic retinopathy.
Full Body Private Health Screenings
Many international patients visit the UK for comprehensive health screens every year. A diverse range of health screening options are available through private healthcare providers in the UK. Providers offer a wide range of health checks, from simple blood tests and physical examinations to full-body CT scans and screening for serious conditions like aneurysms or heart failure. Different providers offer different screenings, so it is important to do your research before making a booking. Most, if not all, private healthcare providers offer a full ‘health assessment’, also sometimes referred to as a ‘full body MOT’— such as the 360 degrees health assessment at Nuffield Health. Health assessments are the most comprehensive private health screenings available as a full check of the body is done. In it, the patient is given a vast range of tests — from basic blood glucose tests to a full biochemistry profile and chest x-rays. The starting price of such health checks can be from £259 to £727.
A wide range of cancer screenings is also available through private healthcare. Patients may want to take the private route because they can choose specific screenings and are likely to be seen more rapidly. You might be concerned about a particular symptom or just want to set your mind at rest. Some of the types of screenings available include colorectal screening, breast cancer screening, and prostate screening, together with MRI scans and X-rays.
Other Types of Health Screenings
There are more niche health screenings available for those who want them. Many healthcare providers commonly offer fertility checks. These involve a series of simple tests together with a consultation. They are offered to both couples and singles of all genders. You don’t have to have reason to doubt your fertility in order to have a check-up. Fertility screening tests are available to those who want to be assured of their fertility to help plan for the future.
Bone density scanning (DXA) is another example. This health screening test can help determine if you suffer from or are at risk of osteoporosis. In general, if the bone density is low, then there is a greater chance of fracture. The scan is also useful to detect other bone disorders and conditions, such as osteopenia, brittle bone disease and osteomalacia. The procedure is simple, fast and completely painless. You lie flat on your back on a padded table while a machine takes images of the spine, forearm or hip. The whole procedure should take about 20 minutes.
Health screenings are a quick and easy way to find out how well your body is doing. Of course, you should do your research properly and always consult your doctor before making a decision. There are many health checks out there, some of which are available on the NHS and others which are not. Whether you want to get a blood test or to find out if you’re able to have children, there will always be support and help available for you throughout the procedure, no matter what decision you make.