Maintaining Good Health

Cancer survivors understand how important an early diagnosis is for saving lives, not just with cancer but in all diseases. You have probably also realised the importance of looking after one’s general wellness. Increasing general wellness means increasing your knowledge of diseases and understanding risks. The risk of becoming ill or suffering from different medical conditions changes as you age. This guide should help you to maintain good health and increase your vigilance against possible diseases. It is important to visit a general practitioner who will get to know you and understand your health conditions.

Young People (19-39)

General health: annual full check-up including discussions about weight, smoking, alcohol consumption. Also include surveillance for depression, thyroid diseases and moles.

Heart: Check your blood pressure annually, and test cholesterol routinely.

Reproductive screening: Know your HIV status and practice safe sex.

Women: Annual cervical (Pap) Smear for cervical cancer screening.

Men: Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men of this age group. It can usually be cured if picked up early by testicular self-examination.

The Senses: Have a hearing test every ten years. Visit your

dentist regularly.

Middle Age (40-49)

General health: annual full check-up including discussions about weight, smoking, alcohol consumption. Also include surveillance for depression, thyroid diseases and moles.

Heart: Check your blood pressure annually, and test cholesterol routinely. Ask your doctor to check for diabetes every one to three years.

Reproductive screening: Know your HIV status and practice safe sex.

Women: Annual cervical (Pap) Smear for cervical cancer screening.

The Senses: Have a baseline eye test at 40 and then every two years. Have a hearing test every ten years. Visit your dentist regularly.

Mature People (50-65)

General health: annual full check-up including discussions about weight, smoking, alcohol consumption. Also include surveillance for depression, thyroid diseases and moles.

Heart: Check your blood pressure annually, and test cholesterol routinely. Ask your doctor to check for diabetes every one to three years.

Bones: Discuss having a bone mineral density test after you reach menopause.

Reproductive screening: Know your HIV status and practice safe sex.

Women: Annual cervical (Pap) Smear for cervical cancer screening.

Men: Have a discussion with your doctor about prostate cancer screening. There are risks and benefits related to the procedure which involves a blood test (PSA) and a possible digital rectal examination. If the blood test result is low it only requires repeating every two years.

Healthy gut: Guard against colonic polyps and cancer by having a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or colonoscopy every ten years. Faecal Occult Blood tests may also assist in ensuring any colon problems are picked up before they develop into cancer.

The Senses: Continue eye tests every two years. Have a hearing test every ten years. Visit your dentist regularly.

Older and Wiser (above 65 years)

General health: annual full check-up including discussions about weight, smoking, alcohol consumption. Also include surveillance for depression, thyroid diseases and moles.

Heart: Check your blood pressure annually, and test cholesterol routinely. Ask your doctor to check for diabetes every one to three years.

Strong bones: Have a bone mineral density test to reduce the risk of fractures.

Reproductive screening: Know your HIV status and practice safe sex.

Women: If you have had three consecutive negative smears and are not at high risk, you can choose to stop having cervical (Pap) smears.

Men: Any man with a life expectancy of greater than ten years should consider, or continue, prostate cancer screening every two years.

Keeping a healthy gut: Guard against colonic polyps and cancer by having a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or colonoscopy every ten years. Faecal Occult Blood tests may also assist in ensuring any colon problems are picked up before they develop into cancer.

The Senses: Continue with eye tests every two years, a hearing test every ten years and visit your dentist regularly.

Written by Dr Sarah Rayne

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