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Is an annual physical exam worth it?

this was from an email I get sent to me. Very counterintuitive in terms of preventive stuff. So If i don't do the exam, what should I be doing?????

Study Questions Value of Annual Physical Exams

For healthy American adults, the benefits of an annual physical exam may not justify the cost, according to a study in the current issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

"A lot of doctors don't think physical exams are very helpful," said author Ateev Mehrotra, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The study found that 80 percent of preventive care occurs during other kinds of patient visits to doctors, such as a complaint about a minor ailment, said US News and World Report.

"The annual physical is not necessary," said Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He said people don't need to be concerned if they miss an annual physical, or several, as long as they have their doctor's approval and remain in close communication with their doctor.

However, a 2005 survey of 800 primary care physicians in Boston, Denver and San Diego found that 65 percent of them believed that an annual physical was a necessity, said US News and World Report. The survey also found that 74 percent of the doctors said annual exams improved early detection of illness, and 94 percent believed they improved patient-doctor relationships.


Wed. Sep 26, 4:40pm

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Wow there are a lot of medical care issues today in threads. I don't really think an annual medical exam is really needed, however, I think women should get a pap at LEAST once a year. Some things, like ovarian or uterine cancer, if left untreated can kill you. They are difficult to detect, but a pap will at least tell your physician something is wrong and to look into to it further

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:46 PM

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For me, annual physicals are worth it- But then I make a point to talk to my doctor and ask him specific questions- my last checkup took an hour. Even better, it took an hour and never once did he look at his watch or try to dismiss me.

Because I have high blood pressure (genetic! thanks mom and dad!), we spend time discussing BP management strategies as well as more general stuff like preventing sports-related injuries and stress management.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:47 PM

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The value of the annual physical and its contents have been debated for years. The important issue of an annual exam is not its defined content but the relationship one establishes with a personal physician. The history which identifies risk factors, life styles, and early symptoms then direct behavioral changes that can only be accomplished by trust and respect for advice. The personal physician patient relationship is the key to early detection and compliance for management. Yes impersonal annual exams have questionable value if they don’t achieve that trust voice.

There is no replacement for quality time with your doctor.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:50 PM

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I wish I could find a primary care doctor who would do these nice things I hear others speak of. In my adult life, I haven't seen it. The last time I was pressured by family into doing a so-called physical, I had to sign and return an agreement in advance agreeing that any known conditions were not to be discussed. This seems to be justified on the basis that the service being procured is preventive care, and therefore care for a condition known to exist would be fraudulent.
Although I have health insurance that is mostly employer-paid (I cannot get cash instead by declining it), I'm thinking seriously of trying to go to self-pay for primary care to see if I can get some that's actually worth having. I'd have to find a doctor who has no contract with my employer's plan or claims administrator, since those contracts generally forbid the provider to do this. We're already doing this for certain other services to the extent of about $5000 a year out of pocket to get services that are 100% covered when delivered by their contracted insurance mill providers in the manner that the outsourced benefits administrator has contracted for - but we think we are better off without them.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:15 PM

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Nothing that I've ever had done at a "physical" would indicate I had a deeper problem such as cancer. They didn't even draw blood. Perhaps the only thing they could have dectected would have been high blood pressure and blood pressure is something they check at all other visits anyway. I think they are SUCH a waste of time. And pap tests are only 45% accurate and do not detect ovarian or uterine cancer, only cervical cancer - which, if this statistic is true would mean it's only dectected 55% of the time. Not very good odds.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:38 PM

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A pap can detect abnormalities which may lead the doctor to looking into things further. Barely anything detects ovarian cancer. So better some odds of detection. I think your infomation is incorrect, and dangerous to put out there.

I encourage all women to get paps regularly.

Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:42 PM

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Not dangerous; thought provoking. We should all do our homework and find out more about womens' health and it's reliability/accuracy and then fight for better health care.

Friday, September 28, 2007, 8:51 AM

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if you get your car inspected yearly, why not your body, too?

Friday, September 28, 2007, 10:32 AM

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In order to get a good physical, you need to do a lot of tests and see different doctors and specialists. You basically need what they call an "executive physical"

this is a list of the tests you get in the executive physical from one of the websites. if anyone has any ideas what these tests are, please let me know.

-audiogran, orthorater, tonometry
-CBC, Diff, Platelets, Sedimentation Rate, Ht
-C-Reactive Protein
-BUN, Cr, UA
-Lipid Profile
-Tumor Markers
- Comp Metabolic Panel: AST, ALT, TP, Glob, ALB, T-bil, D-bil, r-GT, ALP
-Serum Virus: HV, TPHA, HIV
-Stool Occult Blood
-PAP Smear
-Chest, PA and Lateral
-Abdominal Ultrasound Complete
-Holter Monitor
-CT of Lungs w/o dye
-Coronary CTA
-Cartoid Artery Imaging
-Hi resolution CT chest imaging
-CT Imaging of abdomen
-Virtual Colonoscopy
-CT imaging of kidneys, bladder and pelvic organs

Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:38 AM

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This is the physical from the "Princeton Longevity Center"

Comprehensive exam typically requires six to seven hours and provides you with all the information and tools necessary for your healthy lifestyle.

All Comprehensive Exams include::

* A Comprehensive Medical Health Assessment
* Extensive Laboratory Analysis
* Evaluation of Five Year Health Risk Assesment
* CompleteCardiovascular Risk Assessment
* Advanced Cancer Early Detection and Screening
* In-depth Nutritional Evaluation with a registered dietitian
* Personalized Fitness Assessment by an Exercise Physiologist
* Comprehensive Review of Results and Personal Wellness Plan

We also offer a wide range of Elective Options to allow you to further individualize your exam or focus on areas of particular interest to you.

* Medical Health Assessment
o Thorough review of medical history and current health status with Physician
o Comprehensive Physical Examination
o Pulmonary Function Testing (Spirometry)
o Audiometry (Hearing Screening)
o Visual Acuity (Vision Screenin

* Laboratory Evaluation
o Comprehensive metabolic profile including:
+ Liver Enzymes
+ Kidney Function
+ Blood Glucose
+ Electrolytes
+ Muscle Enzyme Levels
+ Cardiac Risk Profile
# Lipid Profile
* Cholesterol
* Triglycerides
# C-Reactive Protein
o Complete Blood Count
o Sedimentation Rate
o Thyroid Function Profile
+ T3
+ T4
+ Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
o Urinalysis
o Iron Level
o Ferritin
o Advanced Cardiovascular Lipid Analysis
(OPTIONAL ELECTIVE- recommended for individuals at increased risk of cardiovascular disease):
+ LDL Particle Size Distribution
+ HDL Particle Size Distribution
+ Apo B
+ Insulin
+ Apo E Genotype

* Lifestyle Health Risk Assessment
o In-depth Personal Wellness Profile
o Determination of Biological vs.Chronologic Ages
o Life Expectancy Extension Analysis

* Cardiovascular Risk Assessment
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Heart and Total Vascular Scan
o Electrocardiogram (ECG)
o Treadmill Stress Test
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Angiography (Optional)

* Cancer Screening: Men and Women
o High Definition 64 Slice CT Lung and Full Body Scan
o Colon Cancer Screening
+ High Definition 64 Slice CT 3-D Virtual Colonoscopy (Optional)
+ Hemoccult for Blood in Stool
o Men over 40:
+ Prostate specific antigen test
o Women:
+ Thin-Prep Pap smear *
(*Laboratory Fee billed separately to insurance by LabCorp)
+ Mammography (arranged at nearby radiology center)

* Nutritional Evaluation
o Personal Consultation with Registered Dietitian
o Body Composition Analysis by DEXA
o Computerized Analysis of 3-day Food Diary
o Quantitative Analysis of Nutrient Intake
o Personalized Nutrition Prescription
o Weight Management

* Musculoskeletal Health & Fitness Assessment
o Measurement of Aerobic Capacity and Biologic Fitness Age
o Body Composition and Muscle Mass Analysis
o Quantitative Visceral Fat Analysis
o Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

* Personal Wellness Plan
o Detailed Review of Test Results and Medical Findings with Physician
o All the Time You Need to Have All Your Questions Answered
o Comprehensive Written Report of Results and Recommendations
o Your Road Map for Staying Healthy and Active

Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:45 AM

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my annual consists of: weight/height; blood pressure; renal panel; eye, ears, nose, throat sight exams; questions pertaining to overall comfort level on a given day and about exercise routine. that's a basic list of what i go through to compare from the previous year and to get an idea of how i am in general. and it's soooo worth it!! i discovered a change in my metabolism due to the changes in my weight-gain patterns.

Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:45 AM

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the executive physical costs thousands of dollars, but it helps you get early diagnosis for cancer and heart disease. If you have the money, you should do it. There is one at Mt. Sinai in NYC that is about $7000, and there is a one year waiting list for the exam.

Friday, September 28, 2007, 12:12 PM

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In my physicals, in addition to height, weight, bp, and anything I have questions about, my doctor always tests my blood and urine. Last year, she found abnormalities in my thyroid that no one would've found otherwise - I'm healthy, normal energy, normal weight. Though, upon further testing, it turned out to be nothing. Still, you should ask your doctor to do blood and urine analyses every year, and they should be covered entirely by insurance.

Monday, October 01, 2007, 2:54 PM

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If anything, it couldn't hurt (much!). If your insurance covers it and all you have to do is fork over a measly co-pay, you might as well go. Same reason you go to the dentist at least once a year, if not more. Preventive medicine is just good practice.

Monday, October 01, 2007, 3:04 PM

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i am upset about the cost of a thorough physical, like the one available at the princeton longevity center, is not covered by insurance. in the long run, it surely would end up saving the insurance companies money.

Monday, October 01, 2007, 3:21 PM

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in regards to the lists of tests noted on this thread, not everyone needs to have every test run on them! if you do not have a family history of some diseases, then some tests don't need to be run every year, maybe bi-annually or not until a certain age. Bloodwork is a very simple way to test for certain issues, including diabetes, etc. I do my annual physical and PAP testing together every year (kill two birds with one stone) and I think it is a great time to discuss current issues with my doctor - I guess I am blessed to have one that is willing to take the time and listen. I was always told that prevention was best!!

Monday, October 01, 2007, 4:18 PM

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annual exam

I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2006 through my annual pap smear and annual physical. Because I went yearly, my doctor caught the cancer in stage one, although it was a fast-growth tumor. Apart from my weight problems, I was in fairly good physical condition- I had no other symptoms, and I am thirty-two years old. While I did have to have a hysterectomy, they were able to save my ovaries, and I didn't have to have any chemo or radiation. My year scans came through four months ago, and I am now cancer free.

The survival rate for my cancer is 90% in stage one, and 50% in stage two. If I hadn't had that exam, I don't know if I would be here now.

If your doctor isn't giving you a good yearly, then find a new doctor, especially for a gynecologist. Many cancers may have no physical symptoms until it is too late.

All I can say is thank heavens for my yearly!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007, 3:43 PM

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These exams are available in Canada. AND they cost so much less!!

Monday, November 12, 2007, 4:58 PM

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Yes, I know about Dominion Health Centres in Edmonton, Alberta

Monday, November 12, 2007, 4:58 PM

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After having cervical cancer I wouldn't miss my annual. Its about the only time I get a pap smear and I believe it is a must at least once a year. I do believe an annual is worth the cost for a lot of people. Whats not worth the cost is people running to the doc for common colds and first signs of anything out of the ordinary.

Monday, November 12, 2007, 8:11 PM

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The recent news about decreasing rates of cancer is mainly due to early detection. You have to know your risk factors and stay in contact with a health care provider who can be "the keeper of your story"; someone who knows your history and keeps up with your lab work, mammograms, etc. I don't get an anuual exam per se. I have labs drawn, based on risk factors. I have an annual mammogram and pap smear etc. That provider keeps all my paperwork so it is accessible by another provder if ever needed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 10:42 AM

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physical exam

Isnt it natural for us to believe we are healthy and not suffering from any disease ? I had a similar thought process until my physician asked me to get a heart scan done after he found that my basic cardiograms were not perfect. I discovered that there were calcium deposits in my coronary arteries and I was at a serious risk of a heart attack. I was shocked and went ahead with the Cardiologist's suggestion of an advanced iagnostic scan. Though its always tough to undergo such experiences,I was not at any kind of discomfort at the advanced heart scan facility. I am not an expert in medical appliance and machines but could feel that the equipment was world-class and I was in safe hands. That feeling is really very important for me and thats how it actually went on. The facilities for Full Body Scan were as good as they can get.


Friday, May 15, 2009, 6:32 AM

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without question. Do as many blood tests as you can and get a handle on your numbers, it can be a great motivator.

Thursday, August 25, 2011, 11:15 AM

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The c reaction protein test is good for you to understand the health of your heart. Preventive is everything. Better to know something early and reverse the track. It's like going to your dentist.

Thursday, August 25, 2011, 11:18 AM

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how thorough?

I'm a 54 year old male who has had a heart issue in the past but now exercises every day and am doing very well. I do see my doctor twice per year and am wondering if my checkup is thorough enough. She does lab tests for cholesterol and psa but basically does nothing else but listen to my heart and breathing. I'm fine with that but am a little concerned we might be missing something. Is this enough or should I ask her to be a little more thorough. O don't want to offend her or tell her what to do. I'm a little uncomfortable with more her being more thorough but I really have a good relationship with her (professional) and don't want to switch to a male doctor to make the complete exam less uncomfortable. What should I do?

Sunday, October 23, 2011, 1:15 AM

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If I had a cardiac problem, I would want to be followed by a cardiologist.

Friday, October 28, 2011, 11:45 PM

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