Why have an annual exam?

Q. I see my doctor every year for an annual physical examination. I recently heard that people who have annual physicals don't really live any longer. Should I still go?

A. I think it is worth doing, but not for the reasons you might expect. A recent analysis of past research found that annual exams do not reduce deaths from cancer or heart disease, which are the leading causes of death. On the other hand, many of the studies that were reviewed date back to a time when fewer preventive services were available, which might explain why people benefited less.

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