“The 3 Steps of Early Detection” were established to allow patients to take an active role in their care and are advocated for by various cancer and illness societies across the nation. Early detection of medical issues often allows for greater treatment options, higher survival rates, and better quality of life.
Step One- Remember What Great Feels Like
Pay attention to how your body feels when you are healthy and well rested. Knowing what “Great” feels like will help you take notice of little changes to your overall health. Sometimes these small changes can be signs leading to a larger health related issue. Know what your sleep, weight, skin, and restroom habits are normally and take notice of changes.
Step Two – The 2 Week Rule
Have you notice a change to your normal wellbeing that has lasted over two weeks? Any health change that has lasted over 2 weeks is worth discussing with your primary care provider. Most of these small changes will not be a cause for concern. However, waiting when it is a larger medical issue can lead to a progression of the illness canceling out earlier and more effective treatment options.
Step Three – Share Honestly with Your Primary Care Provider
Sometimes bodies and health are embarrassing. It is important to be honest with your health care provider no matter what. Honesty allows your provider to make informed decisions and get you back to health quicker.
Taking notice of your health and taking action when there is a lengthy change is one of the most effective ways to advocate for your own healthcare. Remember, sometimes not all symptoms are visible, especially in earlier stages of major illnesses. In these cases, your primary health provider can only make decisions based on what you are telling them. It is crucial you are able to articulate the differences honestly.
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Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.