Testing times

May 15, 2010

Courtesy by: bangaloremirror.com

When Martina Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, her first reaction was — ‘Why me?’ She was, after all, “a lifelong athlete, strong, healthy, and had eaten nutritionally all her life”, which made accepting the situation that much harder. But Martina was lucky that her cancer was caught early. Yet, the tennis great admitted she’s partly to blame because she went four years without a mammogram check-up. “Another year and I could have been in trouble,” she reportedly said.

Despite your best efforts, you may not be always able prevent diseases, but you can ensure speedy recovery by diagnosing them early. So even if you are the superwoman — trying to juggle between varied responsibilities — spare some time for yourself and get a few tests done.

In your 20s and 30s

What: A tried and tested way to test cervical cancer (caused by Human Papilloma Virus — HPV). Pap smear is a swab of cells taken from your cervix that is tested for any abnormalities.
When: Ideally, from the time you get sexually active. If you’ve had several normal Paps in a row and a negative HPV test, get tested every other year. Else, if you have multiple sexual partners, are a smoker or have any other disease, get tested every year.

A precursor to HPV test is the cervical cancer vaccine which is being recommended for girls from 12 onwards. This greatly reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
FACTOID: India reports approximately one fourth of the world’s cases of cervical cancer each year.

Pre-pregnancy tests
What: Tests to ensure good health of your baby. Tests for thalassemia and German measles (Rubella) top the list. Thalassemia is generally passed on from parents to children, hence it’s best to get tested beforehand. It is a simple blood test that picks up the levels of haemoglobin. People who have thalassemia have problems with the alpha or beta globin protein chains of haemoglobin. Similarly a rubella test detects anti-bodies to the rubella virus in a sample of blood. If exposed to rubella, you could get afflicted and transmit it to the baby.
When: Pre-pregnancy or immediately after marriage.
FACTOID: Reportedly, one out of every 25 Indians is a carrier of thalassemia.

What: With increasing cases of fibroids, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a sonography must feature in your regular test-list. Often these diseases are asymptomatic and a routine sonography can detect a number of irregularities. A pelvic sonography also gives a clearer picture of two cancers — of the uterus and that of the ovary.
When: Once in your mid-20s. If the results are clear, you can defer it for three years. But after 40, do it every year because the risk factors shoot up.
FACTOID: It is estimated that the incidence of endometriosis is about 5 – 20 per cent.

Other tests
What: Tests for lipid profile, cholesterol and diabetes. With increasing incidents of heart problems among women too, go for regular testing of cholesterol levels and lipid profile. Ditto for diabetes, especially if you are detected with high cholesterol. And if you are slightly overweight, a thyroid test is a must.
When: Begin these in your mid-30s. 40s and beyond

What: Regardless of whether you feel a lump in your breast or not, a mammography and a sonography should be done every year after 40.

CA 125 test
What: A blood test that is also a tumor-marker, designed to detect ovarian tumours. Include this aspect too with your sonography.
FACTOID: In India, one in 22 women is likely to suffer from breast cancer in her lifetime.

Bone density test
What: A test to find out whether you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
When: Any stage but especially at the menopausal or the perimenopausal phase. It determines the density, thickness and strength of the bones as an osteoporosis-afflicted patient is extremely prone to fracture. If detected early, specific treatments are available.
FACTOID: An estimated 300 million plus people in India suffer from osteoporosis.

Pre-marital medical check-up from Dec 13

December 10, 2009

Courtesy: gulf-times

The mandatory pre-marital medical check-up being proposed in Qatar since 2007 will be officially launched on December 13, Media and Communication department director of Supreme Council of Health, Jassim Fakhroo, said yesterday.

A media campaign aimed at creating awareness on the process among residents, especially would-be couples, begins today.

The launch of the medical check-up, sponsored by Qatar Petroleum and Qtel, was initially scheduled for September 2007, but was delayed due to some technical reasons.

The compulsory pre-marriage check-up will test couples for infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis and genetic and hereditary ailments to prevent them from giving birth to children with complicated diseases, deformities or abnormalities.

Pre-marital medical screening is a religious and civilised requirement which has been endorsed by the Arab League with some Arab countries, including Qatar, passing laws and regulations on the testing.

In 2006, HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani had passed instructions to issue the Family Law No. 22 for 2006, which stipulates – in its Article No. 18 – mandatory pre-marital screening for all, with the aim of maintaining better health for tomorrow’s generations, and building up the society of health and wellness.

An Emiri decree was issued on June 29, 2006 enforcing the provisions of the Family Law, and Article 18, chapter three of the decree stipulates that a separate medical certificate shall be provided by the competent authorities to each one of the couple concerned before certifying the marriage contract.

However, while maintaining the confidentiality of the test results, the pre-marital committee would not stop couples from getting married in case of negative results.

According to documents made available to mediapersons by the SCH officials yesterday, in the Arab world – including Qatar – there are certain prevalent genetic diseases, which are hereditary anemias (sickle cell anemia and thalassemia), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), inherited metabolic diseases in general particularly homocystinuria in Qatar and cystic fibrosis.

In the report, professor of Paediatrics and Genetics at Well Cornell Medical College-New York and Qatar and an adviser to SCH professor Ahmad Teebi said all the diseases were transmitted through autosomal recessive genes that are driven primarily by cousin marriages.

“The married couples are usually cousins or distant relatives, that is why such diseases spread in most Arab countries due to the prevalence of cousin marriages. However, marriage of non-related couples does not guarantee the birth of healthy children free from genetic disorders and birth defects,” he explained.

Professor Teebi said pre-marital screening was highly important regardless of the degree of relationship between the couples (future husband and wife).

“In other words, pre-marital screening is equally important for relatives and non-relatives,” he added.
He stressed that pre-marital screening for both man and woman will reveal if one or both are carriers for the same disorder tested.

“The advice is to avoid the marriage if both are carriers as their chance to have children affected with the disease is 25% or one in four in each pregnancy,” he cautioned.

“We all know that the person carrying the hereditary disease is not a sick person or looking abnormal. On the contrary, he/she is fit but only carrying disease genes that can be transmitted to his/her children,” professor Teebi explained.

He mentioned that on average each human carries around three deleterious recessive genes. If the same gene is shared with a partner the chance of having affected children will be high. When one of the couple is a disease carrier, and the other is not, there will be no problem.

Examination clinics’ schedule
A number of health centres in the country have been designated as pre-marital examination clinics.
The health centres will operate according to the following time schedule:
* Morning: Airport Health Centre
* Evening: Al Khor Health Centre
* Morning: Al Gharrafa Health Centre
* Evening: Airport Health Centre
* Morning: Al Rayyan Health Centre
* Evening: West Bay Health Centre
* Morning: Al Khor Health Centre
* Evening: Al Rayyan Health Centre
* Morning: West Bay Health Centre
Clinic working hours:
Morning: 8:00 – 1:00pm
Evening: 5:00pm – 10:00pm

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