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The Importance of Annual Screenings

Riverside Medical Group Primary Care Provider, Hamzeh Badwan, MD, discusses why annual screenings are important to keep up with throughout your life.
The Importance of Annual Screenings
Hamzeh Badwan, MD
Dr. Badwan received his doctor of medicine at the Medical University of the Americas in Charlestown, Nevis, West Indies. He then completed his Family Medicine Residency at the University of Arkansas Jonesboro, in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

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Helen Dandurand: Welcome back to the Well Within Reach podcast. I'm your host, Helen Dandurand. And today, I'm going to be joined by Dr. Hamzeh Badwan, family medicine provider at Riverside's Watseka campus, to give us some important information about screenings.

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Helen Dandurand: And we're back with Dr. Badwan. Thank you for joining me today.

Dr. Badwan: It's my pleasure. Thank you very much.

Helen Dandurand: Glad to have you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about your background?

Dr. Badwan: Absolutely. I'm actually from Lockport, Illinois. I went to Southern Illinois University. I went to medical school at MUA and did my residency at University of Arkansas. I love sports. I have two little kids. When I'm not working, I'm usually teaching my boy tackling drills.

Helen Dandurand: No, that's fun. That's awesome. So, what we're talking about today is preventative screenings. Can you give us a little insight on what a preventative screening is?

Dr. Badwan: So, the best offense is a defense, and pardon the expression. However, the best way to find disease is to actively look for it instead of reacting until we get a diagnosis. So let me kind of elaborate on what that means. For mammograms, for example, with women once a year at age 40. We start looking for abnormal tissue, anything that looks like cancer and we biopsy it instead of waiting until the cancer spreads and then treating it. If we find it when it's very small, it is much easier to treat and diagnose. So, preventative medicine is a way for you to stay healthy and have peace of heart, peace of mind, knowing that the doctors are doing everything we can to make sure the longevity and your overall wellbeing is taken care of. It's a simple test. I know no one likes to do them; however, it's beneficial. And overall, it decreases cancer in later stages.

Helen Dandurand: Yeah. My second question was why is it so important that we get regular screenings? And I think you kind of answered it there, is that, you know, staying on top of things, finding them before it's too late or late in the game, just keeping up with things, right?

Dr. Badwan: Yeah. Especially, recently, for example, anyone that's smoked over 20, 25 years, we do CTs of the lung, okay? Now, instead of waiting until you're short of breath and have lung cancer, we can find it before it's even big, diagnose it, take it out and reduce the burden of chemo and radiation. So, the offense is a good defense. And our preventative medicine, our scheduling is what this is designed to do. It will also save you money down the long run too, which I'm a fan of.

Helen Dandurand: Absolutely. So, what are some of the most common screenings?

Dr. Badwan: I guess we can start by age. We usually start doing hep B, hep C and STI panel at about 18, depending on when you become sexually active. And those are simple lab blood screening. We could talk about cervical cancer. We start that at age 21. And that's every three years until 29 and then we do every five years.

And then, cholesterol, we usually start at about age 40 unless you have a family history of hypercholesterolemia or early CAD, coronary artery disease and you do a simple lab work for cholesterol and, if we need to, we put you on some medicine for it and that will prevent you and protect you from having heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.

Helen Dandurand: Got it. Cool. We're going to take a quick break to talk about finding a primary care provider.

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All right. So, you kind of started doing this just now, can you break down the preventative screenings by age to give us an idea of what we should be prepared for to get and when?

Dr. Badwan: Absolutely. So, for women, we start breast cancer screening at age 40. If you had an early family history of breast disease or breast cancer in a first degree relative meaning sisters, moms, we go ahead and start earlier, okay? With colon cancer, we now start at age 45 unless you have an early history. And you've heard of colonoscopies, I know no one wants to do them. However, they're highly effective at diagnosing and treating colon disease, which is on the rise. So of course, no one likes to do it. However, it is highly effective in treating and, like I said, diagnosing colon cancer. Prostate cancer screening, that usually depends on your family history. We usually start around 50. And that also is great because we don't do rectal exams anymore, so all the guys out there can clap a little bit. We do PSAs and if they're high, we go ahead and get an MRI and send you out to urology. We talked about lung cancer screen a little bit. We usually start at age 50. And then, there's also osteoporosis. There's aortic abdomen aneurysm screening for smokers. We usually start that at about 65.

Helen Dandurand: Got it. That's so interesting. Are there some specific instances where you might not necessarily be in those age categories, but you should still get a preventative screening?

Dr. Badwan: Yeah, absolutely. Especially like we said, if we have heart disease or if you're having some symptoms that are concerning you or concerning your family physician, we sometimes do them early all the time and we can petition insurance to get those covered, but those are rare cases and usually we just kind of follow and preventative health screening.

Helen Dandurand: Got it. So, you just mentioned insurance. Are preventative screenings generally covered by insurance?

Dr. Badwan: So, I just want to be clear on that. All preventative procedures and screenings are covered by all Medicaid, Medicare, commercial, all insurances. It's the one thing they will be willing to do because it saves them money down the road.

Helen Dandurand: That's really good to know. I don't know that I was aware that it was all of them that we're totally covered, so good to know. So, what would you tell somebody who isn't sure that screenings are necessary for them since they feel like they're healthy and feel good?

Dr. Badwan: I'll tell them that a lot of times you do feel healthy until it's too late, okay? So you have to be aggressive with these. I know no one likes to do mammograms or colonoscopies; however, it's something we have to do, and it will keep you healthy. And at the end of the day, the numbers are on your side. So, I'll convince them to go ahead and do it even though it might not be convenient. But as you become an adult, you have to do things that you might not like to do.

Helen Dandurand: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Badwan: It was my absolute pleasure. I'm happy to be with you guys. If you guys need anything, don't hesitate to reach out.

Helen Dandurand: Of course. And thank you so much to our listeners for tuning in to the Well Within Reach podcast brought to you by Riverside Healthcare. For more information, visit