Ask The Expert
May 12, 2006
Your annual physical is an opportunity for you and your doctor to prevent medical problems or identify new medical problems at a very early stage.
For adults, one of the most valuable functions of the annual physical is cancer screening. The American Cancer Society estimated this year that more than half of all cancer deaths are preventable. Cancer screening tests vary for men and women, but they can include colon cancer screening tests, a regular Pap smear, mammogram, breast examination by your doctor, testicular examination by your doctor or by yourself, and digital rectal examination of the prostate with prostate specific antigen testing.
The annual exam is also a time to catch up on vaccinations. A new vaccination to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) is now recommended for most adults.
Get help during your annual visit if you smoke, if you drink an unhealthy quantity of alcohol or if you have symptoms that could be caused by significant depression. If you need advice about birth control, this is also a good topic to bring up at your annual visit.
During your annual physical, ask your doctor: