The Value of Preventative Healthcare

by Camrey Tuttle, DNP, FNP-C


In a world where the pace of life seems to be ever-accelerating, taking proactive steps to safeguard our health often takes a backseat to daily responsibilities. However, the old adage “prevention is better than cure” holds true, emphasizing the importance of preventative healthcare in maintaining overall well-being. Among the key pillars of preventative healthcare, annual physical exams play a pivotal role, offering a proactive approach to health management.

The Value of Preventative Healthcare:

Preventative healthcare is a whole-body approach that aims to identify and address potential health issues before they escalate into more serious conditions. Rather than waiting for symptoms to manifest, preventative measures focus on lifestyle choices, screenings, and regular check-ups to mitigate health risks. By adopting a preventative mindset, individuals can significantly reduce the burden of chronic diseases, enhance their quality of life, and potentially extend their lifespan.

Annual Physical Exams: A Foundation for Prevention:

One cornerstone of preventative healthcare is the annual physical exam, a comprehensive health assessment that goes beyond treating existing ailments. These exams are not just reserved for those with chronic conditions or advanced age but are beneficial for individuals of all ages. Here’s why:

  1. Early Detection of Potential Issues:

    Annual physical exams serve as an opportunity for healthcare professionals to detect potential health issues in their early stages. Through screenings, blood tests, and a thorough physical examination, doctors can identify risk factors for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Detecting these issues early allows for timely intervention and improved outcomes.

  2. Personalized Health Planning:

    Each individual is unique, and their health needs vary. Annual physical exams provide a platform for doctors to assess an individual’s specific health profile, considering factors such as current medical problems, age, family history, and lifestyle. Based on this information, healthcare providers can offer personalized advice on nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications to enhance overall health.

  3. Building a Long-Term Relationship with Healthcare Providers:

    Regular visits for annual physical exams foster a long-term relationship between individuals and their healthcare providers. This connection allows for better communication and understanding of the patient’s health history, facilitating more accurate diagnoses and tailored healthcare plans.

  4. Preventing Future Complications:

    By identifying and addressing health concerns early on, annual physical exams help prevent the progression of minor issues into more severe complications. This proactive approach not only improves health outcomes but also reduces the financial and emotional burdens associated with treating advanced diseases.

  5. Promoting Mental Health:

    Annual physical exams aren’t solely focused on the body; they also encompass mental health assessments. Given the interconnectedness of physical and mental well-being, addressing mental health concerns during these exams is crucial. Early detection and intervention for conditions such as depression and anxiety can lead to more effective treatment strategies.


Dense Breasts FAQ

Have you been told you have (or suspect you may have) dense breasts?  What does this mean with regard to cancer risks and mammograms?

We’ve gathered a few helpful resources to answer your questions:

Find answers to the questions below fom the National Cancer Institute here:

  • What are dense breasts?
  • Are dense breasts common?
  • What factors influence breast density
  • How do I know if I have dense breasts?
  • How is breast density categorized in a mammogram report?
  • Does having dense breast tissue affect a mammogram?
  • Are dense breasts a risk factor for breast cancer?
  • Should women with dense breasts have additional screening for breast cancer?
  • Are breast cancer patients with dense breasts more likely to die from breast cancer?
  • Questions to consider asking your doctor or nurse if you have dense breasts
  • Are there clinical trials for women with dense breasts?
  • What are researchers studying about the relationship between breast density and breast cancer?

Get the Dense Breasts Q&A Guide from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

From the Mayo Clinic: What does it mean to have dense breast tissue 

If you have questions about this or any other health-related question, please contact us.


Common Breast Cancer Myths

From the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Myth: If the gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 is detected in your DNA, you will definitely develop breast cancer

Here’s The Truth

According to the National Cancer Institute, regarding families who are known to carry BRCA1 or BRCA2, “not every woman in such families carries a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and not every cancer in such families is linked to a harmful mutation in one of these genes. Furthermore, not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer. But, a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.”

For people who discover they have the harmful mutation, there are various proactive measures that can be done to reduce risk. These include taking a hormonal therapy called Tamoxifen or deciding to take a surgical prevention approach which is to have bilateral prophylactic mastectomies, usually done with reconstruction.  Most women will also have ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well since there is no reliable screening test for the early stages of developing ovarian cancer.

About Colorectal Cancer

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Cancer of the colon and/or rectum is commonly referred to as colorectal cancer, the fourth most common cancer in the United States. More than 145,000 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each year. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths than colorectal cancer. Incidences of colorectal cancer have declined dramatically in recent decades. In 1995, 53 new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed for every 100,000 Americans. In 2015, that number dropped to 36. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are grouped together because they share many characteristics, symptoms and treatments. Two-thirds of colorectal cancers are colon cancers.

What causes colorectal cancer?

Together, the colon and rectum make up the large intestine. The colon, which is about four feet long, helps digest food and remove nutrients and water before sending the waste to the rectum, the final few inches of the intestine. Colorectal cancer may develop when:

  • Polyps, mushroom-like growths inside the colon, grow and become cancerous
  • Cells along the lining of the colon or rectum mutate and grow out of control, forming a tumor

Other risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Poor diet, especially high in red and processed meats
  • Family history, including inherited gene mutations or hereditary cancer syndrome

Learn more about risk factors for colorectal cancer

Who gets colorectal cancer?

The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. According to the National Cancer Institute:

  • The average age of a person diagnosed with colorectal cancer is 67.
  • The average age of a person who dies from colorectal cancer is 73.
  • Ninety-four percent of all new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed in people 45 and older.
  • African American men and women are at a significantly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than Caucasians or Hispanics.
  • People of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Get answers to top questions about colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer types

More than 95 percent of all colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas of the colon or rectum. Colorectal adenocarcinomas form in glands that secrete fluids to lubricate the colon and rectum. Adenocarcinomas are found in most common cancers, including breast, prostate and pancreatic. Other types of colorectal cancer include:

  • Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors
  • Primary colorectal lymphomas
  • Gastro intestinal stromal tumors
  • Leiomyosarcomas

Recurrent colorectal cancer is cancer that returns to the same part of the colon or rectum where it was originally diagnosed.

Colorectal cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is called metastatic colorectal cancer. When it spreads, colorectal cancer is most often found in the liver, but may also spread to the lungs, bone and/or brain.

Learn more about colorectal cancer types

Colorectal cancer symptoms

Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation or both
  • Thin, ribbon-like stools
  • Abdominal bloating or cramps
  • Feeling as if the bowel does not empty completely
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Loose or watery stools
  • Unexplained weight loss and/or loss of appetite

Learn more about colorectal cancer symptoms

Colorectal cancer diagnostics and screening

Colorectal cancer may be detected and treated early with a proper screening regimen.

Facts about colorectal cancer screening:

  • The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women of average or low risk have a colonoscopy beginning at age 45.
  • African Americans have a higher risk of colorectal cancer and should begin screening at the age of 45.
  • People with a family history of colorectal cancer should get screened 10 years earlier than when a family member was diagnosed. For example, talk to a doctor about getting a colonoscopy at 38 if your father was diagnosed with colon cancer at 48.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor may be able spot cancer in its early stages, perform a biopsy and remove polyps that may develop into cancer. For some patients who choose not to get a colonoscopy, less invasive stool tests may be an option.

Learn more about diagnostic procedures for colorectal cancer

Treating colorectal cancer

Surgery is most often the first-line treatment for colorectal cancer. Other treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy

Learn more about treatment options for colorectal cancer

Breast Cancer: What you Need to Know

Breast Cancer: What you Need to Know

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the breast, it is called breast cancer. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women.

Read more