With ongoing research in preventive medicine, the concept of the “annual physical” has evolved into an evidence based Periodic Health Exam. Based on your age, gender and underlying medical problems, these routine check- ups may only be needed every few years (i.e. periodically) instead of annually.
Spending time on a complete physical examination has not been proven to lead to better health outcomes. Rather, we focus our time on ensuring that age and gender appropriate screening tests are up to date (see below), and counseling our patients on evidence proven interventions such as exercise, healthy diet, and smoking cessation, and a limited physical exam, including height, weight, blood pressure and other examinations as deemed appropriate to your medical history.
Rather than apply a standard panel of annual screening tests to everyone, the choice of screening test should be tailored to the age, gender, patient medical history and risk factors (i.e. smoking, family history) of the patient.
For an excellent overview of screening tests, click on the link below:
This test is indicated for breast cancer screening in women ages 50-73 every 2 years. After age 73, you should discuss the pros and cons for continuing screening with your physician. Mammograms are generally done every 2 years, unless closer follow up is required of specific findings, or based on risk factors such as family history of breast cancer or increased breast density. Women with very high risk for breast cancer may be eligible for screening through the Ontario Breast Screening High Risk Program.
For more information on this program, click the link below:
This simple test screens for cancer of the cervix. Women between the ages of 21 and 69 should have this test done every 3 years. In the case of abnormal results, more frequent testing and /or referral to a specialist will be necessary.
Colon Cancer Screening
Men and Women over the age of 50 should have screening for colon cancer. A screening colonoscopy is the most thorough test. It is involves taking an oral preparation to empty the bowels, and then having a camera inserted into the rectum to examine the entire large intestine. It is usually done in a hospital or clinic setting by a specialist and with sedation.
A colonoscopy should be done every 10 years, though more frequent tests may be required if any polyps are found, or if there is a family history of colon cancer.
An alternate screening test, Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), is also available. It examines stool samples for traces of microscopic blood which could be a sign of colon cancer. This test is far less accurate than colonoscopy, though it is simple and easy to complete. If done it should be repeated at least every 2 years.
This is best done via a test called Bone Densitometry. It is a simple x-ray of the hip and lower back. A calculation is done based on the readings and the individual risk factors to determine your risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Men and Women over the age of 65 should be screened every 5 years. More frequent screening may be required if results are abnormal. Screening before age 65 may be necessary for some people with risk factors for osteoporosis.
diabetes & cholesterol screening
It is appropriate to screen for diabetes and high cholesterol via a blood test in certain people, such as those with a family history of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This should be discussed with your doctor.
We are strong advocates for routine vaccination as an important tool to prevent disease in children and adults. We recognize that there are conflicting opinions regarding the risks and benefits of vaccines. However, scientific evidence strongly supports the safety and efficacy of routine vaccination, while many opinions against vaccines are not based in scientific fact. Your doctor, nurse, or nurse practitioners are the best resource to talk to in order to ensure you understand the risks and benefits of vaccination.
Information regarding vaccines available in Ontario, as well as the routine immunization schedule, can be found at the link below: