Many times when you visit your doctor he suggests you to undergo various medical tests. Many physicians believe that you don’t need annual checkup if you are young and feel well. However certain types of tests should be performed periodically , particularly if you are 45 or older or you are at a higher than average risk of developing a particular disease.
Before you undergo these tests you need to understand the details of them.
These are the whats, whys & hows of testing:
1. Before undergoing any test, find out why you need it. Get a specific answer, not a “just in case” or “for peace of mind”. If you have had the tests before , could the earlier results be used? Would a follow-up exam be just as helpful?
2. Get some practical information as well: Should you do specific things before tests? (such as not eat for a specific period) How long will the test take? What will the test feel like? Will you need help getting home afterwards?
3. Check out the risks. Any invasive test, one that penetrates the body with needle, tube or viewing instrument involves some risk of infection, bleeding or tissue damage. Tests involving radiation also involves risks and some people develop allergic reactions to materials used in testing.
4. Get information on the laboratory that will be evaluating the test. Ask how often false positives or false negatives occur.( False positives are abnormal results indicating that you have a particular condition when you really don’t. False negatives indicate that you don’t have a particular condition when you really do.) Find out about civil and criminal negligence suits filed against the laboratory on charges such as failing to diagnose cervical cancer because of incorrect readings of Pap smears etc.
5. You will also want to know what happens when the test indicates a problem: Will the test be repeated? Will a different test be performed? Will treatment begin immediately? Could any medications you are taking(including non prescription drugs like aspirin) affect the testing procedures or results?