As the country copes with the second wave of COVID, the NHS has launched a campaign – Help Us Help You – to encourage people to seek medical help if required, hoping to avoid the missed treatment pattern of the first peak of the pandemic in the UK.
Analysis of more than 200 health conditions shows that for some diseases, the intake for diagnosis and treatment fell by up to 90% in the first few months of lockdown. The impact that this will have on an increase in deaths not related to COVID in the future is still uncertain but will likely be significant.
So, seeking early diagnosis of any new and worrying symptoms is essential even as COVID infection levels continue to rise. But, what about routine check-ups? Which annual exams can you delay, and which are a must?
Annual wellness check
If you are generally fit and well, you could safely postpone your annual medical for a few months, but routine health screenings can catch a serious health concern at an early stage when it’s potentially at its easiest to treat. For those suffering from chronic health conditions, such as diabetics, an annual wellness check is an essential monitor of your overall health.
Women who are at a high risk of developing cancer – whether they are showing symptoms or have a family history of cancer – should consider it essential to keep up with their cancer screening appointments.
If you’re not at high risk, then you should be safe to delay a mammogram or smear for a few months; Dr Adam Hazell can discuss this with you in more depth so you can decide whether to delay or proceed.
Prostate cancer is the the most commonly diagnosed male cancer, accounting for over 25% of all cancers diagnosed in men. Fortunately, the majority are slow-growing cancers, so if they are caught early, they can often just be simply monitored through regular surveillance. If treatment is required, then it tends to be the less aggressive forms, when compared to those that are picked up later on and have spread outside of the prostate gland. Currently, prostate cancer screening is done through an examination and a blood test, known as a PSA.
Vaccinations should be completed immediately for anyone who is immunocompromised. With the second wave of Coronavirus upon us, a flu vaccine should be considered to avoid the risk of suffering a combined infection of COVID-19 and the flu this winter.
Immunisations for children should be continued on the recommended schedule to prevent them catching preventable contagious diseases.
For more advice on whether to reschedule any preventative health checks or to go ahead at this time, get in touch with Dr Adam Hazell and the team.