If you had a serious health condition like heart disease, lung or colon cancer, wouldn’t you want to know at the earliest possible stage, even before you started experiencing any symptoms so you can make some important decisions? That’s the premise behind a new type of technology that offers a quick look inside your body using a full body scan to identify any abnormalities.
A New Approach
It used to be that only people at risk for illness, or those who were exhibiting certain worrisome symptoms, would have access to diagnostic tests such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT scans. These tools provided an important way to assess various health situations.
The latest body scans take this concept and make it available to a broader range of people. This enables them to protect their health in every way possible. But while the idea makes sense theoretically, the practical aspects of applying this raise many ethical issues.
A Controversial Idea
A growing number of people today are opting to undergo personal body scans so they can find out if they have any serious illnesses at the very earliest stage while there is plenty of time to still treat them. The problem, though, according to many health experts, is that the information may cause undue stress and in many cases, there may not be any productive actions that patients can actually take to change their fate.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that the information obtained by personal scans can prompt some people may make drastic decisions. For example, a woman whose test reveals a lump that could be cancerous might undergo a double mastectomy to stop her risk even though it may not be necessary.
Such scenarios cause concern for many public health advocates, who warn that such actions could be in vain, since the lump may be benign, or it could be a cancer that may never even progress or be life-threatening. In fact, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s recent Annual Meeting, participations raised their concerns about the connection between increased breast MRIs and increased numbers of mastectomies. Further, taking a surgical treatment option (whether needed or not) carries its own level of risk. But people who are in favor of body scans say that the benefits of this new approach far outweigh such negatives.
Whether you opt to get a quick body scan done through that gives a brief overview of your risks, or prefer a more in-depth look inside your skin, you will likely come out of the process with a better picture of your health status.
Some of the screening options available for the public at large include heart, body, lung and colonoscopy, and many screenings take a broad brush approach. This enables technicians to look for early warning signs of various conditions and make suggestions for change as needed to safeguard your future health.
Some of the types of information you can obtain from a body scan include finding plaque in your arteries, identifying tumors and screening for early detection of colon and rectal cancers. Doctors say that having this knowledge can prompt people to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising regularly, which over time could have a positive impact even if the latest word from the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services is that this early identification to date hasn’t been proven to help people live longer.