Frequently Asked Questions

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Why should I go for screening?

Yes, feeling healthy does not mean that you do not have a disease. You may not have any symptom during early stage of the disease. Screening helps to detect the disease at the early stage so that it can be treated before the disease becomes serious.
Screening should be done when one is healthy, not when you already have symptoms. You see a doctor to diagnose your health problem if you have symptoms.
Yes. While it is important to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly to stay healthy, this does not guarantee that you will not get a disease. Screening helps to detect a disease early so that treatment can be given before complications set it. Although you have a lower chance of getting a disease because of your healthy lifestyle, you may still get the disease due to other factors such as a strong family history.
It is unclear whether or not health supplements can improve health. You may still develop a disease despite taking health supplements. Hence, while taking health supplements, you should still go for screening regularly to help detect the disease early.
It is recommended that you undergo screening regularly as you can develop a disease any time. Having a normal health report last year does not guarantee that you will not develop a disease now or in the future.

Who should go for screening?

Not only older men need to go for screening, young men should go too because some diseases can occur in young men; some even die from it. Family history, unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and excessive alcohol drinking are some of the factors that contribute to this.
If you have a medical condition that substantially limits your lifespan, you do not want to go for screening. Screening is recommended for diseases that progress slowly over a long period of time. Therefore, you may not benefit from screening.

What screening tests to go for?

Not all diseases can be screened and not all tests are accurate. Health authority recommends screening for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, bowel cancer, lung cancer, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, depression and lifestyle risk factors. However, these should be chosen according to your health profile. You can use the ScreenMen assessment tool to assess your health risks and find out the appropriate tests you should go for. Click here to find out more.
All of these tests are not recommended for screening because they are not accurate in detecting abnormality. They either over- or under-detect the disease. This means that positive test result does not mean that you have the disease while negative test result does not mean you do not have the disease.
Prostate cancer screening using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is not recommended to be done routinely because the test is not accurate in detecting prostate cancer. Positive test result does not mean that you have prostate cancer while negative test result does not mean you don’t have prostate cancer. If the PSA level is found to be high, you may need to undergo invasive procedure such as a biopsy. This may cause pain and anxiety. However, if you have a family history of prostate cancer (your father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer), you should talk to your doctor about it.
It is not necessary to screen from head to toe because not all diseases can be screened and not all tests are accurate enough to detect the disease. You should choose screening tests carefully based on your health profile, the type of disease and how accurate the test is. You can use the ScreenMen assessment tool to help you decide which screening tests you should go for. Click here for more information.
Most doctors will recommend screening tests based on your health profile and how accurate the test is. If the doctor recommends a screening test that is not recommended on this website, you may want to ask him/her the following questions:
  • Am I at risk of getting this disease?
  • How accurate is the test in detecting the disease?
  • Is there an effective treatment for the disease?

What are the costs of screening tests?

  • The cost of a screening test depends on the test itself and where it is done. In the government health clinic, the cost of screening tests are included in the consultation fee, which is RM1.
  • In private sector and other settings, the costs of screening test vary. The estimated costs are as follows:
    • Blood sugar (glucose): RM8-15
    • Blood cholesterol (lipid): RM8-15
    • Blood test for HIV: RM5-40
    • Blood test for syphilis (VDRL): RM8-40
    • Blood test for hepatitis B (HBsAg, anti-HBs antibody): RM8-40
    • Blood test for hepatitis C (anti-HCV antibody): RM8-40
    • Stool for faecal occult blood (Bowel cancer): RM8-40
    • Colonoscopy (Bowel cancer): RM200-2000
    • Low dose CT scan (Lung cancer): RM350 - 500
  • The cost might also differs depending on packages offered.

What are the possible harms of screening?

While blood tests can be painful, you can request the doctor to use a smaller needle to reduce the pain. You can also request for an anaesthetic cream to be applied on your skin before blood taking to reduce the pain. However, this is subject to availability.
During colonoscopy, a tube with a camera will be inserted into your large bowel through your anus to look for any abnormality. However, you will be sedated throughout the procedure to reduce the discomfort.
You may feel anxious when going for the tests. You may feel less anxious by finding out more about the tests and be more prepared for it.
You may also feel anxious while waiting for the results. You may request to receive the results earlier from the doctor to reduce your anxiety
Health screening is now considered an important part of health prevention and is acceptable to most people. Going for health screening is not a sign of weakness; rather it means that you are a responsible person who takes action to maintain your health.

What happens after the test?

It depends on the screening test and where it is done:
  • Blood sugar and cholesterol: few days to 1 week
  • HIV test: Immediately (rapid test), 1-2 weeks (lab test)
  • Blood tests for syphilis, hepatitis B and C: 1-3 weeks
  • Stool for faecal occult blood: Immediately (rapid test); up to 1 week (other stool tests)
  • Colonoscopy: Immediately after the procedure. However, if a biopsy is done, it may take up to 2 weeks to confirm whether the tissues taken are cancerous.
  • CT scan of the lungs: 1-2 weeks, depending on the reporting by the radiologist.
You should consult a doctor if the tests results are positive. Often, you will need to go for further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Blood pressure: Your blood pressure measurement should be repeated. If two blood pressure readings at separate occasions are above 140/90 mmHg, you have high blood pressure.
  • Blood sugar: Your blood sugar measurement should be repeated. If two fasting blood sugar readings are above 7.0mmol/L, you have diabetes.
  • Blood cholesterol: Your blood cholesterol measurement should be repeated. If two fasting blood cholesterol readings are above 5.2 mmol/L, you have high cholesterol.
  • HIV: If a rapid test is positive, you will need a lab test to confirm the result.
  • Syphilis: You will need to undergo another blood test to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Hepatitis B: You will need to repeat the test 6 months later to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Hepatitis C: You may need to undergo another blood test (PCR) to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Bowel cancer: A positive stool test requires you to go for a colonoscopy. If a growth is found during the colonoscopy, a tissue biopsy of the growth will be done to confirm whether it is cancerous.
  • Lung cancer: If the CT scan result suggests lung cancer, a tissue biopsy will be done to confirm whether it is cancerous.
    Once the diagnosis is confirmed, you may talk to a doctor about the treatment options available for the disease. The decision whether or not to go for treatment is entirely depend on you. You can discuss the pros and cons of each treatment options with your doctor before making a decision regarding the treatment.
It is understandable that you may be distressed if you are diagnosed with a disease which may have a significant impact on your life. However, screening allows the disease to be detected at an early stage when it can be treated before complications occur. In addition, treating the disease early may improve your quality of life and reduce healthcare cost in the long run.
Most health insurance companies will not cover for pre-existing diseases that have been diagnosed. However, the companies may still cover for any new disease.

Other questions?

You can find out whether you have erectile dysfunction by clicking here.
If you are found to have ED, you can get advice from a doctor about ED treatment. There are effective treatment for ED such as tablets.
ED is also linked to coronary heart disease. You should ask your doctor to check whether you have heart problem.
You can find out whether you have prostate problem by clicking here.
There are effective treatment for prostate problems such as tablets. You may want to seek help from a doctor if you are found to have prostate problem.

Do you have more questions?