Catch Problems Early Before They Catch Up with You
Krystina Pischke, DO, of ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah, believes strongly in the value of a well-orchestrated preventive health care program. “The first step in preventive care is to find a primary care provider and schedule an annual physical,” said Dr. Pischke. “That’s when a doctor and patient have time to really talk and get to know one another.”
A series of health screenings will be discussed at your annual physical, and your provider will recommend the ones that coincide with your age, family health history, and lifestyle choices. “The goal is to notice small problems and address them before they become bigger,” Dr. Pischke said. “On the other hand, normal test results are always reassuring. They give a person peace of mind.”
- Skin Cancer Screening
- What it is: Visual inspection of a person’s skin to look for abnormally shaped moles or patches of skin.
- Why you need it: The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Risk increases as lifetime exposure to sun accumulates. Dr. Pischke said, “Studies show men are in the sun a lot more than women, and they wear a lot less sunscreen than women. The most common sites for men to get skin cancer are the nose, scalp and ears.”
- Prostate Cancer (screening for men starting at age 50)
- What it is: Your doctor will order a digital rectal exam and/or a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test that is completed through a blood test: PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer.
- Why you need it: Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer.
- Blood Pressure Check
- What it is: Your blood pressure is measured through the use of an inflatable cuff on your arm.
- Why you need it: High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm—the dangerous ballooning of an artery. The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It's also related to weight and lifestyle. When it is treated, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
- Mental Health Screening
- What it is: A series of questions to help your doctor determine how you are coping with the demands of everyday life and what kind of support you may need.
- Why you need it: “Many people find it difficult to share their problems and try to remain ‘strong and silent’ rather than getting help,” Dr. Pischke said. “Please ask if you are having trouble coping, sleeping through the night, or maintaining energy or hope.” She connects patients with therapies, support groups, counselors, and medications to help men and women with mental health concerns, from anxiety and depression, to addiction, smoking cessation, family problems, and anger management.
- Colonoscopy (screening for men and women starting at age 50, then once every 10 years if results are normal)
- What it is: Before this test, you will need to clean out your colon (colon prep) the day before your procedure. Plan to stay home during your prep time since you will need to use the bathroom often so that your colon will be empty for the test. The colonoscopy procedure allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine. He or she uses a thin, flexible tube to look at the colon. On the day of your colonoscopy, you will have anesthesia at the hospital.
- Why you need it: Colon cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: growths on the inner surface of the colon. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove polyps before they turn cancerous via a colonoscopy.
- What they are: Immunizations teach your body how to produce the right antibodies as soon as a particular virus starts reproducing.
- Why you need them: New vaccines must be produced constantly because viruses mutate over time and your body needs new instructions for fighting them. An annual flu shot is an excellent idea. Ask your doctor about pneumonia shots and other smart updates to your vaccination record.
- Cholesterol Test
- What it is: Cholesterol levels are checked through a simple blood test.
- Why you need it: A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries, increasing your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis—hardening and narrowing of the arteries—can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Diabetes Screening
- What it is: The fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) measures your blood glucose to determine if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes. It is a blood test.
- Why you need it: One-third of Americans with diabetes don't know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and impotence. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications.
- Mammogram (annual screening for women starting at age 40)
- What it is: A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal.
- Why you need it: One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime, and a mammogram is the best method available to detect breast cancer early. The screening exam can detect a lump before it can be felt.
- Pap Smear(screening for women over age 21 at their regular gynecological appointments)
- What it is: A sample of cells is taken from a woman's cervix or vagina. The test is used to look for changes in the cells that show cancer or conditions that may develop into cancer.
- Why you need it: A pap smear is the best tool to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.
- Dental Cleaning
- What it is: During a dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth and check for cavities and gum disease. He or she will also evaluate your risk of developing oral cancer, as well as check your face, neck, and mouth for abnormalities.
- Why You need it: Regular dental appointments are good for your teeth and may help detect broader health concerns. Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with the development of cardiovascular problems, memory loss, and cognition problems.
“The role of a primary care doctor is very important because we can take a broad view of a person’s overall health and help plan his or her care, for a pressing issue or a longer-term wellness goal,” Dr. Pischke said. All health information and test results are stored in ThedaCare’s electronic medical record. “Patients direct their care and make their own choices. Our job is to gather the information so those choices are clearer and easier to make.&rdquo
Are you looking for a doctor who can help you prevent health problems and live life to the fullest? Krystina Pischke, DO, is accepting patients at ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah inside the new clinic at 333 Green Bay Road. Call her office directly at 920.729.6088 to schedule an appointment or call ThedaCare On Call at 920.830.6877 or go to www.thedacare.org and click on “Find a Doctor.”