Following on from our post last week on what to expect during a physical examination, today’s blog will explain some of the laboratory and screening tests you may also undergo.
Now it’s important to note that there are no standard laboratory or screening tests during a physical exam, so what you are advised to have will depend on your physician and health history.
Laboratory tests during a physical exam
The main laboratory tests you are likely to undergo during a physical exam are:
– Complete blood count (CBC) – A CBC is a blood test that helps evaluate your overall health and detect a wide range of conditions, including anemia, infection and leukemia.
– Chemistry panel – A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) will include an electrolyte panel (which measures levels of sodium, chloride, potassium and bicarbonate), kidney function tests, liver function tests and also measures glucose and calcium.
– Blood glucose – To look for signs of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
– Urinalysis – Using a sample of your urine, this test can detect a range of conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes.
– Fecalysis – A stool sample test (fecalysis) can detect certain conditions affecting your digestive tract, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrient absorption and even cancer.
Screening tests during a physical exam
In addition to the laboratory tests outlined above, you may also undergo the following screening tests:
– Mammogram – A screening test for breast cancer, usually recommended for women 40 and over
– Pap smear – A screening test for cervical cancer, usually recommended for women 21 and older
– Prostate exam – A digital rectal exam is the most common method used for physically checking your prostate, while a PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in your blood – both of which can flag early signs of prostate cancer.
– Testicular exam – A physical exam that checks both testicles for signs of abnormality, including lumps, changes in size, and tenderness.
– Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening – This simple ultrasound looks for a bulge or swelling in the aorta, and is usually recommended for men 65 and over, as they are most at risk.
Both men and women:
– Cholesterol test – Also called a ‘lipid panel’, this checks your cholesterol levels to see if you are at risk of heart attack or stroke.
– Osteoporosis - A bone density scan can help reveal potential issues relating to weak bones.
– Hepatitis – Everyone should be tested for hepatitis C at least once to find out if they have ever been infected with the virus.
– Colorectal – A colonoscopy is usually used to check for colorectal cancer and other abnormalities in your colon.
If you are a smoker, or have a family history of certain conditions, your physician may also recommend further tests in addition to those above.