Skip to content

Women's Health

Font Size

Health Screening: Finding Health Problems Early - Topic Overview

Why is it important to find health problems early?

Often, the earlier a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is that it can be cured or successfully managed. When you treat a disease early, you may be able to prevent or delay problems from the disease. Treating the disease early may also make the disease easier to live with.

How do you find health problems early?

Your doctor may suggest:

  • Screening tests, which find health problems before symptoms appear. Examples of screening tests include mammograms to find breast cancer and colonoscopy to find colon cancer.
  • Diagnostic tests, medical exams, and self-exams, which find a disease or other health problem early in its course.

What health problems should you be tested for?

You and your doctor can use recommendations made by expert panels of health professionals to help you decide what screening tests you need. These panels develop screening recommendations based on:

  • Age, health, and gender.
  • Risk factors. Risk factors are things that make getting a disease more likely. They may include family history, such as having a close relative with cancer, and lifestyle habits, such as smoking. Cholesterol screening, for example, is recommended for people who have a family history of early coronary artery disease.
  • Whether or not you are pregnant. A woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant may be screened for genetic conditions and other conditions that may affect her or her baby.

Sometimes different expert panels make different recommendations. In these situations, talk with your doctor to decide which guidelines best meet your health needs.

See which screening tests you may need:

Interactive Tool: Which Health Screenings Do You Need?

How do you decide when to get a screening test?

When and how often you get screening tests may depend on your age, your gender, your health status, your risk factors, and the cost of testing. Your doctor may suggest screening tests based on expert guidelines. In some cases, testing is done as part of a routine checkup.

When you are thinking about getting a screening test, talk with your doctor. Find out about the disease, what the test is like, how the test may help you or hurt you, and how much the test costs. You may also want to ask what further testing and follow-up will be needed if a screening test result shows a possible problem.

    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hands on abdomen
    Test your knowledge.
    womans hand on abdomen
    Are you ready for baby?
     
    birth control pills
    Learn about your options.
    insomnia
    Is it menopause or something else?
     
    woman in bathtub
    Slideshow
    Doctor discussing screening with patient
    VIDEO
     
    bp app on smartwatch and phone
    Slideshow
    iud
    Expert views
     

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Blood pressure check
    Slideshow
    hot water bottle on stomach
    Quiz
     
    question
    Assessment
    Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
    Quiz