Important Health Screenings

doctor talking to male patient

Medically reviewed by Dr Ho Ying Jie, M.B.B.S (Singapore)

Preventative health screenings are an important part of maintaining good health. It consists of investigations, physical examinations and other tests to detect illnesses in people who look and feel healthy, and are not exhibiting any symptoms. Preventive health screenings differ from diagnostic tests which are used to determine the cause of the symptoms that one is already showing.

What is good about preventive health screenings is that they can help detect potential health problems early which is when they are most treatable. However, it is common for people to not go for active health screenings for a myriad of reasons. Such reasons include wanting to live in ignorance, being afraid of the costs or not knowing which health screenings they should go for because there are so many different types of health screenings available.

Nonetheless, going for regular preventive health screenings is key to ensuring a healthy life. Read on to know more about the type of health screenings available in Singapore!

Types of Health Screenings

Health screenings can be broken into two categories – general and specific.

General Health Screenings

General health screening packages may vary from place to place. You may only be required to go for some of these screenings after a certain age as your risk factor only increases as you grow older.
However, a typical basic health screening is meant to be suitable for everyone and aims to check a person’s overall health condition. Hence, it should at least cover a minimum of four components as listed below.

Basic Health Screening

1. Health Assessment

A health assessment is done by going through your medical history and lifestyle habits. This will enable the doctor to identify any potential health risks and advise you on steps you should take to mitigate these risks.

2. Physical Examination

A physical examination generally consists of three parts.

Firstly, the doctor will measure your height and weight to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) against the square of your height (in metres). A healthy BMI for adults is usually within the range of 18.5 – 22.9 kg/m2. This range does not apply to pregnant women, people with muscular builds and the elderly too. Your BMI allows the doctor to screen for weight categories that may lead to higher risks of health issues that are associated with obesity. However, your BMI is just a tool to track your health and it cannot be used to diagnose your health.

Secondly, the doctor will also conduct a simple vision and hearing test. Vision and hearing screenings are important for maintaining good sensory health. If necessary, your doctor may recommend you to visit an optician or an audiologist for further treatment. 

Lastly, the doctor will also conduct a blood pressure screening. Blood pressure screening is one of the most important health screenings you can get. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke

3. Diabetes Screening

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body processes blood sugar. Diabetes screenings involve initiating a blood test to measure your blood sugar levels.

4. Cholesterol Screening

High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Similarly, cholesterol screenings involve initiating a blood test to measure your cholesterol levels. 

Cervical Cancer Screening 

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. Cervical cancer screenings are recommended for all women between the ages of 25 and 69 who have had sexual intercourse. There are two main types of cervical cancer screenings: Pap tests and HPV tests. 

Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in Singapore. As a woman ages, the milk glands and ducts where milk is collected in her breast become smaller and are replaced by fibrous and fatty tissue. It is in these milk ducts and glands that breast cancer usually develops. There are two main types of breast cancer screenings: Clinical breast exams and mammograms (for women above 50 years old). 

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is the cancer of the colon, also known as the large intestines, and the rectum, which is the passageway connecting the colon to the anus. In Singapore, colorectal cancer is the most common type of cancer in males and the second most common cancer in females. It is also Singapore’s top killer. Colorectal cancer screenings are recommended for all adults over the age of 50, or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. There are two main types of colorectal cancer screenings: Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) and colonoscopy.

Specific Health Screenings

Specific health screenings are done based on the individual’s health condition or if the doctor feels that a specific test is required to diagnose an illness. Individuals can also request for specific tests to be done if they wish. 

Specific health screening packages typically consist of more tests to help the doctor get a more comprehensive understanding of your health condition based on your risk profile. Such tests include X-rays, urine tests and full blood counts. When in doubt, you can always seek your doctor’s advice on what tests you should go for.

Frequency of Health Screenings

For general health screenings:

If you are 18 years old and above, you are advised to go for a BMI check annually and a blood pressure test every two years unless otherwise advised by your doctor.

If you are 40 years old and above, you are advised to go for a diabetes and cholesterol check every three years unless otherwise advised by your doctor.

If you are 50 years old and above testing for colorectal cancer, you are advised to use a FIT kit every year to test for blood in your stools or a colonoscopy every five to ten years.

For women aged 25 to 29 years old who have had sexual intercourse, you should go for a pap smear once every three years to test for cervical cancer. Otherwise, if you are 30 to 69 years old, you should go for a HPV test once every five years.

For women aged 50 to 69 years old, you should go for a mammogram every two years to test for breast cancer.

Nonetheless, do take note that these recommended frequencies of screening are only a general guideline. The frequency of health screenings really depends on the individual, such as your past medical history and familial risk factors. When in doubt, you can always seek the doctor’s advice.

For specific health screenings, the tests are as required and you should seek your doctor’s advice on what tests are appropriate for you.

Cost of Health Screenings

The price of health screening packages depends on where you go and the complexity of the screenings required. Basic health screenings can be as low as $40 while comprehensive health screenings can be as high as $1000. Unfortunately, you are unable to use Medisave to pay for your health screenings. 

However, if you are on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), you are able to get subsidies under the Health Promotion Board’s Screen for Life (SFL) programme. Depending on what cardholder you are, you can pay as little as $0 or as high as $5. Take note that the SFL programme only covers for certain screenings if you meet the eligibility criteria.

What to Expect During a Health Screening at Keystone Clinic & Surgery

When visiting us, our friendly doctors will ask you about your medical history, perform a physical examination, and may order diagnostic tests such as blood work or imaging studies if required. Rest assured that all of our doctors are proficient in conducting blood tests and health assessments. Depending on the results of your screening, the doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication, or other treatments.

We will also be releasing more articles on preventive health screenings so keep an eye out for that! If you have more questions or doubts, feel free to swing by for a consultation with one of our friendly doctors.


CPF Board. Health screening in Singapore – what to know. 2022. 

Charis K. When should I start going for health screening? Mount Alvernia. 2018. 

HealthHub. The ABCs of Health Screening. 2022. 

HealthHub. Weight, BMI and Health Problems. 2023.

National University Cancer Institute Singapore. Colorectal Cancer. 2022. 

Singapore Cancer Society. Breast Cancer. Accessed 2023, May 24. 

Singapore Heart Foundation. BMI Calculator. Accessed 2023, May 24.

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