Internal medicine deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of internal diseases.
Physicians specialising in internal medicine are called internists and are specialised in treating complex or multisystem diseases that single-organ-disease specialists may not be trained to deal with. For this reason, internists will often work in collaboration with doctors from other medical specialties.
Internists are very knowledgeable and have a global approach to medicine. They are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient may have, no matter how rare or complex.
Periodic medical examination
There are no strict recommendations regarding how often people should see a doctor, as this will depend on the particular individual’s age, risk factors, and current health status.
For adults in good health and without chronic diseases, routine physical exams are generally recommended once a year for those over the age of 50, and once every 3 years for those under 50.
Periodic medical examinations do work in detecting disorders, and the early detection of serious medical conditions can be of critical importance.
The following guidelines will be subject to a patient’s particular medical history.
- Breast cancer. Women between 40 and 50 years of age should have a breast cancer screening with mammogram every 1 year, and women over 50 should do so every 2 years.
- Cervical cancer. Screening for cervical cancer is recommended starting at 21 years of age. The cytology may be accompanied by a papillomavirus (HPV) test and should be conducted every 3 or 5 years.
- Lung cancer. Annual screening for lung cancer (with helical CT scan) is recommended in patients 55 or over and who are smokers or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.
- Colon and rectal cancer. These screenings should start at age 50. When there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, screenings should start earlier. The frequency of repeat testing depends on the approach used (colonoscopy, rectosigmoidoscopy, or CT).
- Prostate cancer. Sscreenings should start at age 50. In high-risk patients (patients with a family history of prostate cancer, particularly found in relatives under 65 years of age), screenings are recommended to start earlier between 40 and 45 years of age.
Experts recommend screening for osteoporosis:
- In all women aged 65 years or older.
- In postmenstrual women under 65 with osteoporosis risk factors (previous fracture, rheumatoid arthritis, corticosteroids treatment, parental history of hip fracture, low weight, tobacco use, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or chronic liver disease).
- In men with a history of bone fractures, prostate cancer treatment, low hormonal levels, increased parathyroid gland function or intestinal diseases.
There are different methods for assessing bone density. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the most common and is available at Hospital Ochoa.
Abnominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening
An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when part of the aorta becomes abnormally enlarged or widened. An ultrasound or CT scan to rule out this condition is recommended in men aged 65 years and over, who are or have been smokers or who have a first-degree relative who has had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.