It’s one of those things you habitually put off. You are healthy, or at least you think you are. Well, if you dread getting yourself that medical check up in Singapore, you are not alone.

There are multiple reasons why people put off a regular medical check up. 

Some adopt the concept of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They avoid going for health screening particularly if there are no health issues bothering them.

To others, it could simply be the cost that keeps them off those medical check ups.

Whatever the reason, it’s important that you understand why going for a medical check up is essential, regardless of whether you feel in the pink of health.

Why a full body check up is necessary

Getting a full medical check up in Singapore should be part of your routine. 

Although you may feel well, what you might not be aware of is that chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high blood cholesterol may not display typical symptoms in the early stages. 

Health screening can generally pick up anomalies that point to these chronic diseases or other more serious underlying medical issues that you might not be aware of.

Diseases like cancer may not show symptoms in the early stages too. A health screening can detect the onset of some cancers which, if treated early, can lead to a higher quality of life and even prolong life expectancy. 

Some types of cancer, when detected early and subsequently given appropriate treatment, can result in a higher survival rate of beyond 5 years.  

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in Singapore. For instance, those who receive early treatment have a 5-year survival rate of more than 95%. In contrast, those with prostate cancer detected at a much later stage have only 30% chance of surviving beyond 5 years. 

Likewise, women with breast cancer have a survival rate of over 90% when the disease is detected at an early stage (i.e. stages 0 and 1) and given proper treatment.

Early detection of cervical cancer also leads to a 5-year survival rate as high as 92%. This rate gets lower if the disease is detected at later stages.

This means that how good you feel about your health is not a good measure of how physically well your body is. 

Not only is health screening a means to evaluate your general well-being, but also a way to diagnose possible problems that might have gone undetected previously. 

Common reasons why Singaporeans hold back on getting a medical check up in Singapore

Infographic on common reasons why many people in Singapore avoid medical check ups

There are multiple reasons why people hold back on going for a medical check up. Some of these reasons include:

1. “I’m young, I exercise well, and eat healthy.”

As soon as they enter the working world, many adults become concerned with issues such as career, insurance, generating more income, as well as health.

Many hit the gym or engage in different forms of exercise, realising how important it is to keep fit and healthy. 

Well, if you exercise regularly and feel healthy, there is no need for a health check up in Singapore, right?

Besides, isn’t a health check up associated with older people or those with existing medical conditions?

This is where most people are wrong.

Many hold this notion: If I’m keeping to a balanced diet and regular exercise routine, why would I need a medical check up? 

What most fail to realise is that a healthy diet and regular exercise does not necessarily guarantee optimum health.

As stated earlier, many chronic diseases do not show symptoms in the early stages. Some conditions may only show symptoms at the advanced stage, when treatment options are limited.   

Health screening, on the other hand, can detect abnormalities that could point to a serious medical condition. 

The reality is that chronic diseases such as diabetes, if left untreated, can lead to blindness and kidney failure. Hypertension can result in a debilitating stroke. 

And as seen in the past few months, those with chronic diseases are more likely to develop complications when infected with COVID-19. 

Through health screening, underlying medical conditions can be detected early and subsequently given proper treatment. Knowing if you have a chronic disease can help healthcare providers give you advice on necessary precautions to take to avoid severe complications.

2. “I’m too busy to go for a medical check up.”

Health screening is often placed on the back burner, particularly if one is feeling well and experiences no nagging pain.

“I have no time!” is a common sentiment. You might feel that a medical check up in Singapore takes a chunk of your time that could be better spent elsewhere. 

To address this concern, healthcare providers have started to list down the various components of health screening packages online. This helps to provide you with an estimate of the time you would need to spend at the screening centre. 

So a busy schedule cannot be used as an excuse to avoid health screening, which could prove to be a turning point in your life. You should organise your schedule and place health screening as a priority.

3. “Medical check ups are uncomfortable.”

It’s understandable that spending time going through a battery of medical tests is not something that you look forward to. It can also make you feel nervous.

To some, certain tests come with inconveniences such as the need to fast or provide urine and stool samples. 

Endoscopy, for instance, could be a cause for concern due to its discomfort, not to mention embarrassment.

However, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel in undergoing some tests, health check up in Singapore should be seen as a potential lifesaver, regardless of what the final findings are.

As a woman, you might shy away from getting pap smears or human papilloma virus (HPV) tests due to the need to be in an uncompromising position in such tests. In this case, going to a gynaecologist that you’re familiar with would help. 

Going to the same doctor that you have been with for some time would help calm your nerves. This would enable you to share your medical history, lifestyle, and habits with ease, for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.

4. “I don’t know where to go or what to do.”

Although there are multiple public and private clinics and hospitals offering health screening, some people may not be sure on where to go, how to get themselves screened, or which tests to go for.

Talking to friends or relatives, for instance, can help you decide on where or how to get a medical check up to monitor your health.

Alternatively, you may want to approach your regular general practitioner or the nearest clinic for advice.

We’ve also compiled some places that you can go for your health screening here. 

5. “I need to save money for a rainy day/emergency and cannot spend on check ups.”

Maybe you feel that money spent on health screening could be better channeled to an immediate need or an emergency.

Well, it’s time that you quell that thought!

Not only does early detection lead to a higher chance of recovery, it can help you save money in the long run. 

Rather than spending much more later on treatments for an illness, wouldn’t it be better to fork out a little that can help with early detection? 

Plus, a medical check up in Singapore is generally affordable. 

And it’s something that doesn’t demand your time every week or month. Depending on your age and health condition, a health screening done every 1 to 2 years should suffice.  

6. “I’ve already done it a few years back. Why must I do it again?”

Perhaps you’ve gone through a medical check up previously which gave you the all-clear for various tests. You feel confident that there’s nothing wrong with you even though that full body check up was done in Singapore some years back.

The truth is, our bodies go through physiological changes over time. For example, our blood pressure, blood sugar glucose, cholesterol levels, and body fat content change as we get older.

A good health report in a particular time frame doesn’t guarantee the same for the future. This is why it’s recommended that you go for regular health screenings in order to detect any conditions that might have been absent in the previous screening. 

Importance of a regular medical check up in Singapore

A regular health screening is essentially a report card to monitor your general well-being. 

It not only helps to spot any medical issues, but also identify any changes such as body weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. 

Unusual changes in these indicators, such as an increase in blood sugar levels, is not favourable and if left untreated, could lead to more serious medical issues. 

Such abnormal results help to signal the need to tweak certain aspects of your lifestyle to improve your health. 

For instance, if you find a significant increase in your cholesterol levels in the past year, it’s time to look into a more balanced diet and include relevant exercises in your routine

While these lifestyle changes can help increase the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and reduce the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL), there’s no way of knowing if your efforts pay off unless you go for regular medical check ups.

In general, various medical check up packages in Singapore include different types of tests that enable you to monitor how different aspects of your health change over time. Understanding the actual state of your well-being enables you to take corrective action for optimum health.

What are the common health check up packages in Singapore?

Basic health screening packages usually include tests to investigate common medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

A basic health screening typically involves physical examination by a doctor and biophysical measurements that include:

  • Height and weight to determine Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Visual acuity
  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure tests

In addition, basic medical check ups are usually less invasive, and may involve simple radiological investigations like chest X-ray that can detect abnormalities of the lungs.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) that screens for heart disease is another test that may be included in some basic health screening packages.

Biopsies which are more invasive and conducted in suspected cancer cases, for instance, are not usually included.

Depending on where you decide to go for your health screening and the tests (including blood tests) you want to include, you would be looking at a price of around $100 to $500. 

Read here to find out more on what you need to know about basic health screening packages in Singapore. 

What blood tests can tell you about your health

Blood samples, with a stethoscope and a mask on the table

Blood tests are also usually included as an integral part of a basic health screening as they offer useful indications of your overall health.

They monitor how your vital organs such as heart, lung, and kidneys are functioning. In fact, blood tests are routinely carried out in a wide range of physical examinations to investigate genetic and serious medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

Common types of blood tests and their purposes

Here’s a look at some common blood tests. It’s best that you are familiar with them so as to understand the purpose of your blood tests. 

Full blood count (FBC) testChecks on :
– Red blood cells that carry oxygen from your lungs to other organs in your body
– White blood cells that fight and prevent infections
– Platelets (very small cells) that help the blood to clot, preventing bleeding and bruising
– Anaemia and other conditions related to blood cells
Urea and electrolytes (UE) blood testDetects abnormalities in renal (kidney) function and an important test for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 
Liver function test (LFT)Checks on your liver function. It’s usually carried out on those with liver disease or suspected of having it. 
Blood cholesterol testTests levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. 
Blood glucose testMonitors the amount of glucose in your blood. It’s a routine test for diabetics as a means to manage their condition.
Cancer blood testA precursor test for suspected cancer patients. It provides doctors vital information on further tests to be conducted before proper diagnosis can be made.
Source: Parkway Cancer Centre

Preparing for a blood test

Whether or not you need to prepare yourself for a blood test depends on the purpose of the tests. Some blood tests don’t require any preparations, while others require fasting with  absolutely no consumption of food and drinks (except water) for a few hours. 

Examples of blood tests that require fasting include blood cholesterol tests, blood glucose tests,  and liver function tests.

Fasting helps to ensure that there are no digested food and liquids in the bloodstream, which can affect the reading accuracy of some substances like glucose, cholesterol, and minerals. 

In the event that you’ve eaten, drunk, or taken some medication before the tests that require you to fast, you must alert the healthcare professional so that they can advise you whether you should go for the tests another time. 

Should you need to fast, do check on how long you need to go without food and drinks before the tests. Depending on the type of blood tests, you might be required to fast between 8 and 12 hours. 

How often should I go for a medical check up in Singapore?

When considering health check up packages in Singapore, you should consider factors such as your gender, age, and genetic issues such as a family history of certain medical conditions. 

This will determine the type of tests to include as well as the frequency of the full body check up to go for.

In general, screening for hypertension (high blood pressure) should be carried out at least every 2 years for individuals 18 years and above, regardless of gender. It should also be included as part of your regular full body check up. 

If you’re over the age of 40, you should also include a fasting blood glucose test in your health screening package to screen for diabetes. This should be conducted once every 3 years. However, if you have a family history of diabetes, more frequent screening might be necessary.

Testing for blood in stools, which screens for colorectal cancer, should be done from the age of 50 onwards. As recommended by the Health Promotion Board, this should be carried out annually.

Additional tests such as pap smears and mammograms should be included in medical check ups for women. Pap smears should be done once every 3 years, while mammograms can be done once every 2 years.

While some medical conditions discussed above do not require annual tests, there may be circumstances where you might need to seek medical attention earlier. This includes unusual symptoms such as drastic weight loss or persistent localised pain, as well as having a family history of certain medical conditions.

Should you go for a yearly health check up? Read here to find out more. 

What should you do after a medical check up? 

After receiving results for your full body check up, remember to ask your healthcare provider the following:

  • What do the results of your tests mean?
  • Are there other tests that you need to do based on those results?
  • What kind of measures can you take to get a better prognosis in the next screening? For example, should you make any dietary changes?

In addition, you should make a copy of the report. Besides keeping it for your own record, it will be useful should you decide to switch to another healthcare service provider for your next health screening. 

It would help as a reference to compare results obtained from the previous screening against the latest one.

And should there be abnormalities in your health check up report, you should address it with a follow up visit to the doctor. 

After all, the main objective of going for a medical check up is to detect any issues early and have them managed effectively for better health. The last thing you want is to find yourself diagnosed with a chronic condition, with limited treatment options to cope with it.  

Ready to go for a medical check up in Singapore? Get started with MyDoc today. 

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