The Complete Guide to Body Checks in Hong Kong | Your Options at Every Age

Are you planning to do a body check? Body checks help you identify problems before they start. Checking in with a doctor to assess your health means early, often asymptomatic, signs of disease can be caught early. Most non-communicable diseases, the most common being cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, are treatable, preventable and much less fatal in their early stages. While there is currently a amongst physicians as to how often physical examinations should be provided in public health systems, several countries recommend visiting your physician on an annual basis.

Where can I get a body check in Hong Kong?

Unlike a lot of comparable countries, the Hong Kong public health system does not have a set of recommendations for when various populations should undergo screening tests. Hong Kongers must access body checks in private clinic settings, which are un-regulated and not standardized. This means that packages, costs and user experience vary greatly depending on the provider.

What can I expect from a body check in Hong Kong?

Every body check should begin with a discussion about your family and personalhealth histories. It’s crucial to be as informed about your family’s health history and as honest as possible with your physician about any habits that may affect your health so they can paint as accurate a picture as possible.

Be aware that some screening tests have the possibility of returning a false-positive. It’s important to understand that there are risks involved with screening tests as well. Please consult your physician for any medical advice.

What to include in my next body check?

In the absence of official government recommendations in Hong Kong, we have based guidelines on collected information from comparable countries’ public health systems and expert opinions. With the help of Dr. Kevin Lau 劉仲恒醫生, we have put together a list of particular items that should be included in your next body scan. See our references and methodology at the end of this article.

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(1) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 18 YEARS OLD

Genetic screening – optional

Genetic screening analyses your DNA and informs you which non-communicable diseases you are more susceptible to. This does not necessarily mean you will develop this disease but rather which illnesses you are at higher risk of developing. While some people may find this a bit nerve-wracking, it does provide insight into what type of preventative measures you can take to avoid becoming ill.

Genetic screening is available in private clinics across Hong Kong for adults over 18 years old. When considering genetic screening, it’s important to investigate which lab the clinic of your choice uses as the quality varies.

Body check for Skin cancer[i]

Population/age: Adults; people at high risk – close relative or history of skin cancer

Recommended test: Self-skin examination and/or whole-body MRI

Frequency: Your physician can advise how often, likely every 6 months if anything is abnormal

Body check for Obesity[ii]

Population/age: Aged 18+

Recommended test: BMI and waist circumference measurement

Frequency: Every 2 years, if normal; every 12 months if increased risk of obesity; every 6 months if currently obese or overweight

 

Body check for Cardiovascular disease (CVD) (e.g. heart attack and stroke)[iii]

Population/age: Aged 18 to 50

Recommended test: Blood pressure measurement

Frequency: Every 2 years

Body check for Cervical cancer[iv][v][vi]

Population/age: Pap smear – women aged 20-70, starting two years after becoming sexually active; Cervical Cancer Test – women aged 25+

Recommended test: Pap smear or Cervical Cancer Test (tests only for HPV)

Frequency: Pap smear – Every 2 years if normal, more frequently with an abnormal result. The Cervical Cancer Test is recommended every 5 years, more frequently with an abnormal result.

 

Body check for Ovarian cancer[vii]

Population/age: Women with a family history of ovarian cancer

Recommended test: Serum CA125 measurement, transvaginal ultrasound

Frequency: As per your physician’s recommendation

Vision check [viii]

Population/age: Adults with no risk factors for glaucoma

Recommended test: Eye examination

Frequency: Every 2-3 years or as per your physician’s recommendation

2) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 25 YEARS OLD>

Body check for Uterine cancer[ix]

Population/age: Women aged 25-64 who have had sexual contact

Recommended test: Cervical Pap Smear

Frequency: Every 3-5 years

(3) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 30 YEARS OLD

Body check for Nasopharyngeal cancer[x]

Population/age: Individuals aged 30-70 with a family history of nasopharyngeal cancer

Recommended test: EBV serology blood test, nasopharyngoscopy

Frequency: Every 12 month

(4) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 40 YEARS OLD

Body check for Type 2 Diabetes[xi]

Population/age: Beginning at age 40

Recommended test: Diabetes risk assessment tool (questionnaire, varies by country)

Frequency: Every 3 years

Population/age: People at high risk (impaired glucose testing or impaired fasting glucose)

Recommended test: Fasting blood sugar levels

Frequency: Every 12 months

Population/age: People at high risk (aged 45+ with obesity and/or high blood pressure; history of CVD issues; taking antipsychotic drugs)

Recommended test: Fasting blood sugar levels

Frequency: Every 3 years

Body check for Breast cancer[xii]

Population/age: Women aged 40 to 74

Recommended test: Mammogram

Frequency: Every 1 year

(5) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 45 YEARS OLD

Health check for Cardiovascular disease (CVD)[xiii]

Population/age: People at low risk of CVD

Recommended test: CT coronary calcium/ fluoroscopy heart/ ultrasound echocardiography transthoracic

Frequency: Every 2 years

Population/age: People at intermediate risk of CVD

Recommended test: CT coronary calcium

Frequency: Every 12 months

Population/age: People at high risk of CVD

Recommended test: MRI heart with stress, without, and with IV contrast/US echocardiography transthoracic stress/ Tc-99m SPECT MPI rest and stress

Frequency: Regular checks as per your physician

(6) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 50 YEARS OLD

Medical check for Colorectal cancers[xiv]

Population/age: Aged 50+

Recommended test: Colonoscopy

Frequency: Every 10 years

Population/age: People at increased risk of colorectal cancers; age depends on family history

Recommended test: Colonoscopy

Frequency: Every 5 years

(7) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 55 YEARS OLD

Health check for Lung cancer[xv]

Population/age: Adults 55-80 with a history of smoking > 30 packs per year

Recommended test: Low dose computed tomography

Frequency: Every 12 months

(8) BODY CHECKS IN HONG KONG FROM 65 YEARS OLD

Abdominal aortic aneurysm [xvi][xvii]

Population/age: Men aged 65+; long-term smokers; family history

Recommended test: Ultrasound

Frequency: One time

Visual and hearing impairment[xviii]

Population/age: Aged 65+

Recommended test: Eye and hearing test

Frequency: Every 12 months

Health check for Osteoporosis [xix]

Population/age: Women aged 65+

Recommended test: Various (ultrasound, sonography)

Frequency: As per physician

It’s important to note that if you are experiencing new and unexplained symptoms, there is no need to wait for a body check – it is highly recommended to visit your physician.

METHODOLOGY
We have reviewed sources from The US Preventative Services Task Force; The American Cancer Society; the US-based National Institute of Health, the Australian, Canadian, UK, and New Zealand Department of Healths’ respective screening programs. Some of the recommendations in these sources are based on cost-effective population-level screening, some are based on the best age for individuals to begin looking for these diseases. In order to reflect the most comprehensive individual-level recommendations, the advice provided here is based on the lowest age provided by any of our sources.
For our cancer recommendations, we reviewed the top ten cancers in Hong Kong, based on incidence. We have included those cancers that had published screening recommendations on the US Preventative Services Task Force website.
 
Cancers which don’t have screening recommendations but that are in the Hong Kong top 10 cancers (by incidence) are:
  • Prostate cancer – guidelines for prostate cancer are currently being reviewed.
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – no recommended test
  • Liver cancer – only recommended for those who have risk factors, symptoms or as recommended by your physician. More information can be found here.

Looking for health insurance? Contact our partner AD MediLink now at [email protected] or +852 2296 9773 for expert and unbiased advice. Their advisors are uniquely trained on the Hong Kong healthcare system to answer all your questions; on both the public and private sectors.

[i] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection/skin-exams.html

[ii] https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/obesity-in-adults-screening-and-management

[iii] https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/high-blood-pressure-in-adults-screening

[iv] http://www.health.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/cervical-screening-1

[v] https://www.timetoscreen.nz/cervical-screening/

[vi] https://canadiantaskforce.ca/guidelines/published-guidelines/cervical-cancer/

[vii] https://www.hkacs.org.hk/en/screening_guideline.php

[viii] https://opto.ca/health-library/frequency-of-eye-examinations

[ix] https://www.healthline.com/health/pap-smear#pap-smear-frequency

[x] https://www.hkacs.org.hk/en/screening_guideline.php

[xi] https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/diabetes/3-screening,-risk-assessment,-case-finding-and-diagnosis/31-identifying-risk-of-diabetes-in-asymptomatic-patients/

[xii] http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/about-breast-screening

[xiii] https://acsearch.acr.org/docs/3082570/Narrative/

[xiv] https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/acs-recommendations.html

[xv] https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/lung-cancer-screening

[xvi] https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-screening

[xvii] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm-screening/

[xviii] https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/redbook/5-preventive-activities-in-older-age/54-visual-and-hearing-impairment/

[xix] https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/osteoporosis-screening

Dr. Kevin Lau 劉仲恒醫生 graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong and is currently the Medical Director at Trinity Medical Imaging Centre in Central. He is qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists (United Kingdom), The Hong Kong College of Radiologists and The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. He obtained his Master in Public Health & Master in Public Administration from the University of Hong Kong.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.