When it comes to managing your health, knowing sooner is always better
As published in the Province on November 3, 2013
For many of us, the most important action we can take this year is to have a comprehensive health assessment. Ironically, the physical tune-up that might keep us moving along for many years to come is the one priority that many put off until next year. But experts warn procrastination is risky business – particularly if you are male.
“Women visit their physician more often than men and participate in screening programs with greater frequency,” says Dr. Beth Donaldson, Medical Director at Copeman Healthcare. “In some cases they see their care provider 3-4 times more often than their male counterparts.”
Frequent visits means greater familiarity with screening regimens and, on average, community-based programs have been more successful in recruiting women.
“As an illustration of gender differences we can look at broad-based community programs like the Pap test and the PSA,” offers Dr. Donaldson. “The Pap test for detecting early signs of cervical cancer – the province’s most successful women’s screening program – has participation rates of about 79%. That contrasts with the PSA, a marker for prostate cancer with participation rates that some studies suggest is as low as 28%.”
At birth, females in BC enjoy an extra 4 years of life expectancy. Although this gender gap has narrowed considerably since the 1980’s, researchers believe that life expectancy could be even closer if men were more proactive in managing their health. When it comes to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes – regardless of gender – early detection saves lives.
“Many cancers are very treatable if caught early– cervical cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer all have 5-year survival rates in excess of 90% – if caught early. But those numbers can drop to 8% or less if caught in the later stages,” notes Dr. Donaldson, “When it comes to cancer in particular, early detection is the name of the game.”
But Cancer is not the only disease that results in many years of lost life as a result of late detection. Many common health concerns like high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and metabolic disorders can be effectively treated or managed if caught early.
Asked why patients often delay screening even if it means it could save their life, Don Copeman, Founder and Chairman of Copeman Healthcare offers insight from his many years of experience.
“One of our biggest challenges is just getting people to stop delaying their decision to come in. People often know what they need to do, and out of pride they would rather quit smoking, lose weight or lower their blood pressure before joining us. They just don’t understand how much we can help them.”
But Copeman understands it often takes time for people to embrace lasting change.
“We are not here to force lifestyle change. People will change when they are ready. We do feel that we are very good at educating people about their risks and moving them down the path to better health one step at a time. During their journey we are there to detect any problems at the first possible sign. We have an expression here that we live by: ‘Medical expertise when you need it, prevention when you’re ready for it.’”
Copeman Healthcare, a private medical Centre with facilities in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Calgary & Edmonton has setup clinical pathways to stratify risk and manage the earliest signs of disease. Programs have been developed for high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, Cancer, women’s health, men’s health, cardiac risk reduction and diabetes management. Clients report that reducing their risk factors has also boosted energy, self-esteem and an overall feeling of wellness.
For an annual fee of $3,325 ($4,325 in the first year), Copeman Healthcare integrates the care of a physician with an interdisciplinary team of dietitians, exercise medicine specialists, family health nurses and nurse practitioners. Working together the team develops a personalized prevention and early detection plan that puts clients on the path to lasting wellness.
More information on Copeman Healthcare can be found on the company’s website at www.copemanhealthcare.com.