Throughout your life it is important to have regular health screenings to ensure you are maintaining good health. Advances in medical technology now mean we have access to a range of screening tests from cancer screenings to healthy heart tests. By staying on top of screenings we ensure early detection which is key to the successful treatment of many diseases.

—Dr Michelle Mon Désir MSc MBBS, Oasis Medical Group

Standard screenings start as young as 25, even younger if you have a family history of certain diseases, so it’s not something that should be delayed until we are ‘older’.

As parents, we lead busy lives but nothing is more important than our health and being there for our children. So make sure you prioritise your health by getting the recommended screenings for your gender and age.

All the screenings covered in this article are offered in the Cayman Islands and are performed by world class doctors using the latest equipment and methods. You can be even more proactive by undertaking an Annual Wellness Check which offers a wide range of tests that ensure you remain as healthy as possible.

Benefits of Screenings (Source: NHS)

  • Screening can detect a problem early, before you have any symptoms.

  • Detecting a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective.

  • Finding out you have a health problem or an increased risk of a health problem can help people make better informed decisions about their health.

  • Screening can reduce the risk of developing a condition or its complications.

  • Some deaths from bowel cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer can be prevented.

Costs of Screening Tests

The cost of screening tests vary depending on your insurance policy, so check with your doctor or GP to find out the costs. Many charities in Cayman also offer free screening services, scroll down to find out more.

More Information

Contact your doctor or find a new doctor to find out what screenings are available to you.

Blood Pressure Screening

  • What does the test detect? It checks if your blood pressure is too high or too low.

  • Why is the test important: High blood pressure, or hypertension, can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

  • What’s involved in the test: A blood pressure cuff is wrapped around the top part of your arm. Your doctor will inflate the cuff, from which a gauge will measure your blood pressure.

  • What happens next? If your blood pressure is too high or too low you may be required to make lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthy balanced diet and establishing a regular exercise routine. You may also be required to take medication to control your blood pressure.

  • Screening age & frequency: The NHS recommends that all adults over 40 years of age have their blood pressure tested at least every five years so any potential problems can be detected early.

Breast Cancer Screening

Mammogram
  • What does the test detect? It can detect breast cancers when they are too small to see or feel.

  • Why is the test important? 1 in 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime and the likelihood of getting it increases with age. Early detection through mammogram screening is key to having a good chance of recovery. Regular mammograms also allow your doctor to compare changes in the breasts over the years.

  • What’s involved in the test: A mammogram is an X-ray picture of your breast in a special machine. A mammographer will place your breast on a plastic plate. Another plate will firmly press your breast from above. The plates will flatten the breast, holding it still while the X-ray is being taken. The steps are repeated to make a side view of the breast. The other breast will be X-rayed in the same way. It can be uncomfortable for a few moments at a time but the whole process is over in about 10 minutes.

  • What happens next? If the results come back abnormal that does not always mean there is cancer but you will need to have additional exams and biopsies before the doctor can tell for sure.

  • Screening age & frequency: Women ages 40-44 can start to have mammograms every one to two years. Women ages 45-75 should have a mammogram every one to two years, depending on their risk factors.

Cervical Cancer Screening

  • What does the test detect? This is a combined test that checks for the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and changes in the cells covering the neck of the womb. These changes could later develop into cervical cancer if they aren’t treated.

  • Why is the test important: It’s extremely effective at preventing cervical cancer and saves around 4,500 lives every year in England alone.

  • What’s involved in the test: After undressing from the waist down, you lie on your back with your knees bent and apart. Your nurse or doctor will use an instrument called a speculum to gently open the vagina, so that they can see your cervix. They’ll then use a small brush to take a sample of cells from your cervix which they'll send to a lab to be tested. The test takes just a minute or two, while it can feel uncomfortable, usually it does not hurt.

  • What happens next? If you get an abnormal result, it doesn’t mean you have cancer. You will most likely be invited back for a colposcopy which is a 15-20 minute procedure where a small sample of tissue is removed for examination in a laboratory. If these cells are found to be abnormal you will then have a further procedure to remove all the abnormal cells. This procedure is usually carried out while you're awake but your cervix is numbed and you can go home the same day. You will then need to have regular screenings every six months to check for abnormal cells and HPV.

  • Screening age & frequency: The NHS recommends that all women aged 25-49 go for a cervical cancer screening every three years, women aged 50-64 every five years and women over 65 only need to be screened if one of the previous three tests were abnormal. Women of any age who receive abnormal test results may be advised to have more frequent screenings.

Cholesterol tests

Blood test tubes
  • What does the test detect? It measures if you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood.

  • Why is the test important? Having too much cholesterol can block your blood vessels and increases your risk of having heart problems or a stroke. There are no symptoms of having high cholesterol, the only way to measure it is with a test.

  • What’s involved in the test: It’s a simple blood test, your doctor may recommend a blood draw from your arm with a needle or a finger-prick test.

  • What happens next? The test measures three levels: 1. Good cholesterol (called HDL) – this makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke, 2. Bad cholesterol (called LDL and non-HDL) – this makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke and 3. Triglycerides – a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol. If your levels of bad cholesterol are high then the doctors will look at other risk factors including your family history, blood pressure, BMI and lifestyle and recommend a course of action. This might include a lifestyle overhaul that involves eating better, giving up alcohol and smoking, and increasing physical activity. You could also be prescribed medication that will help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

  • Screening age & frequency: Healthy adults between the age of 40-74 should have a cholesterol test every five years. If you have a family history of heart disease your doctor may recommend more frequent testing.

Bowel Cancer Screening

  • What does the test detect? It checks for traces of bowel cancer, which includes cancer of the colon and rectum.

  • Why is the test important? Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second most fatal cancer; however, bowel cancer is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early.

  • What’s involved in the test: There are three types of tests involved. For screening purposes you will most likely be offered the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) which looks for indicators of cancer in your stool. If any abnormalities are found then you will be invited for a colonoscopy or a virtual coloscopy. A colonoscopy is a 30-45 minute procedure where a long, thin, flexible tube with a small camera inside it is passed into your bottom and the doctor will look for pre-cancerous polyps, and any other abnormalities. A virtual coloscopy is a 3D scan of your abdomen and pelvis which will show polyps or other abnormalities in the colon or rectum.

  • What happens next? Before you go home, your doctor will tell you if they removed any growths (polyps) or tissue samples (biopsies) from your bowel. These will be tested for cancer and you will receive the results in a few weeks.

  • Screening age & frequency: Healthy adults aged 50-74 should have a screening test every two – five years. Those with a family history of bowel cancer may be advised to start screening earlier.

Skin Cancer Checks

Mole check
  • What does the test detect? A full body skin exam can identify suspicious growths or spots that may be a symptom of skin cancer. Automated Total Body Dermoscopy screening, also known as mole mapping, scans the whole body and photographs every mole and blemish. At future screenings moles can automatically be compared to the previous scans and any moles that have changed can be reliably identified.

  • Why is the test important? Living in the Cayman Islands we are exposed to dangerous UV rays 365 days a year so it’s important to remain vigilant. With skin cancer early detection is key and the survival rate is over 98% at five years if the cancer hasn’t spread.

  • What’s involved in the test: With Automated Total Body Dermoscopy screening you are required to stand in your underwear while the computer takes pictures of your whole body. It takes about 15 minutes. The computer captures and records all your moles.

  • What happens next? If there are any moles causing concern then you will be invited back for a biopsy which will then be sent to the lab for testing for skin cancer.

  • Screening age & frequency: All adults in Cayman should see a dermatologist at least every 12 months.

Prostate Cancer Tests

  • What does the test detect? There is no specific screening test for prostate cancer, however, a blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA which may help detect early prostate cancer.

  • Why is the test important? Prostate cancer is more common in older men and in Black Caribbean and Black African men. • What’s involved in the test: The test is a simple blood draw with a needle, the sample is then sent to the lab for testing.

  • What happens next? If you have a raised PSA level, you may be offered a digital rectal exam (DRE), an MRI scan or a biopsy of the prostate to help doctors decide if you need further tests and treatment.

  • Screening age & frequency: Screening for AfroCaribbean men begins at age 45. All other men over 50 can request a PSA test but they are not offered as standard.

Annual Wellness Checks (AWC)

Doctor and patient

An Annual Wellness Check is a preventative health check, a bit like a full body MOT that gives you an overview of your current health. An AWC can help spot any issues early on, meaning you get timely treatment. You can also have all the tests done in one day, at one clinic, so it’s more time efficient for busy people. Adults of any age can start getting AWCs to keep on top of general health; most adults begin having them regularly when they become parents as health becomes even more important to them.

An AWC can include any number of tests and examinations, usually with add on tests available. Tests can include: Complete Blood Count (CBC), Fasting Blood Sugar, A1c, Lipid (Fats) Profile, Liver Function Panel, Kidney Function Panel, Uric Acid, Thyroid Panel (FT3, FT4 and TSH), Urine Examination, ECG, Chest X-Ray and a Physician Consultation. Additional tests can range from cardiac testing, ultrasounds, cervical cancer screening, Bone Health Screen, diabetic screening and many more. Each AWC can be tailored to your needs.

Contact your GP or one of the clinics below to book your Annual Wellness Check.

Free Screenings

If you have a basic health insurance policy or no insurance, then the following local charities can help you:

The Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) provides vouchers for mammograms and breast ultra-sounds for all Cayman residents whose health insurance doesn’t cover them or if you have no insurance at all. For more information call (345) 923 1135 or (345) 936 1135, email info@bcfcayman.com or visit the BCF website.

The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens gives free mammogram vouchers during the month of October to highlight breast cancer awareness. Email bcawareness@gmail.com.

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society (CICS) provides vouchers for the following screenings to all Cayman residents who do not have these tests covered by their health insurance or have no insurance at all: mouth cancer, throat cancer, cervical cancer (pap tests), prostate cancer (PSA tests) and skin cancer. The CICS also provides financial aid for cancer patients in need. For more information call (345) 949 7618 or visit www.cics.ky.

The Lions Club of Grand Cayman provides free prostate cancer screenings (PSA tests) in mid-November at the Lions Center every year. For more information call (345) 547 9559.

The Cayman Heart Fund provides free medical screenings to the public regardless of their status or insurance coverage. Tests include blood pressure, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, cholesterol and glucose. The Cayman Heart Fund also provides financial aid to patients receiving cardiology healthcare. For more information call (345) 916 6324 or visit www.caymanheartfund.ky.

General & Family Doctors in the Cayman Islands