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The #1 Health Mistake Expats Make: When Was Your Last Preventive Health Test?

When moving to a new country, it’s easy to forget to book yourself in for the type of routine medical check-ups you would normally back home because you’re not sure where to go or who to trust. In this article, Dr. Tucker from Tucker Medical in Singapore, answers some of the most common questions around preventative health screening, and why it’s so important.

1. What are the most popular preventive health tests in your clinic for and children? We offer a comprehensive health screening program (called Total Health Screening) for adults that focuses on screening for common conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and infections. The program is different than most other health screening because it was designed and supervised by specialists.

It is rooted in evidence-based medicine but also takes into account regional disease patterns, such as hepatitis screening and EBV testing (a marker for nasal cancer, common in Asia). The test screens for numerous cancers, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalance, vision conditions, arthritic problems, and more.

We also provide routine mammograms, breast ultrasound, colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, coronary calcium screening, treadmill testing, and coronary angiography.

2. What sort of numbers of people do you see per month/ per year and how has this grown over the past two to five years? What is the demographic in terms of age groups and men/women ratio? We see new patients for health screening everyday and this is rapidly growing. Over the last two years, and since we moved away from broad-based GP screening to more personalized specialist screening, we have seen a significant change in the volume of patients self-refereed for health screening.

Typically we see more women than men, about 2/3 female, 1/3 male. The average age is about 40, but it appears women come in at a slightly younger age than men. We also see a lot of married couples who do screening together. 

3. Why is preventive health so important in your view? In medical school you often get a thrill from “curing” disease. Whether it is antibiotics for pneumonia or surgery for an early cancer, curing is thrilling. However, I think it is much more exciting to prevent a problem rather than treat one.

Prevention gives me a chance to talk about health, not medicine. It is so much better to get people (before they become patients) to focus on “wellness” and not on “illness”.

4. Why do you think there is an increasing trend towards people seeking preventive health? I donʼt think the practice of medicine has changed but healthcare delivery certainly has. As people have access to so much more medical information they seek out specific data that you can get from health tests.

People are getting their entire DNA scanned for a few hundred dollars, they can see if their diet is lowering their cholesterol, they can see the inside of their bowels with virtual colonoscopy.

With so much information and the ease of communication people are taking much more control over their health. Learning about health prevention goes hand-in-hand with the empowerment that comes from living in the age of the internet.

5. What are some of the most common diseases or illnesses that can be avoided or overcome by using preventive medicine? Chronic disease! The risk of common chronic diseases can be significantly reduced by following some straightforward medical advice. The root of all common chronic illness is inflammation and this can be reduced by following a healthy diet (rich in fruits and vegetables, low in animal protein), by exercising vigorously daily, practicing mindfulness (as opposed to multi-tasking), and by getting adequate sleep.

Common chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, hypertension, and cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and lung. Many people (and doctors) consider these illnesses to be “lifestyle diseases.” There is good evidence to suggest these problems are predominantly associated with personal choice, so making good decisions is critical.

6. What are the average costs for people engaging comprehensive medical testing per annum? Health screening is and needs to remain inexpensive. For a healthy 40 year adult, it should not cost more than 100 SGD a month to be confident that you are in a good health."

If you live in Singapore, and you and your family are overdue for a preventative health test, visit Dr. Tucker at Tucker Medical. Tucker Medical is located at 8 Sinaran Drive, #04-03, Novena Specialist Center. Tel: +65 6659 6918. For more information about their services and useful tips on healthy living, check out their website.  

Post created by Lisa


I’m Lisa and I have travelled extensively across Asia for over 17 years, I have also worked and lived in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

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