Understand your test results
Learn what questions you need to ask.
Having health screenings and tests are important to your good health. Understanding the results is just as important. Your test results will be the basis of your care.
Who "reads" your medical test?
It depends on the test. It may be a specially-trained doctor or a technician. They will send your doctor a report on your test. Your doctor will use this report to offer you the best care possible.
You and your doctor are a health care team
Your doctor can tell you why tests are needed. He or she can also help you understand what the results mean. Your doctor can:
- Go over your test results with you
- Tell you what the results mean to your overall health and care plan
- Talk about family history of health problems
- Give you a copy of your test results
- Tell you if more tests are needed
- See you at any needed follow-up visits
Common health screenings
Your doctor might order blood tests, X-rays or other tests to screen for:
- Heart problems
- Bone health
- Breast cancer
- Large intestine cancer
- Lung cancer
Be a good health care team player
What if your doctor wants you to get a medical test? Have some basic questions ready. Knowing the answers can help you take better care of yourself. Start with these questions:
Before the test:
- What is the test for?
- When will I get the results?
After the test, when you talk to your doctor about a care plan:
- Why do I need this action?
- How do you spell the name of the drug?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will this medicine work with other medicines I’m taking?
- Are there any other choices?
If you need surgery:
- What problem will the surgery fix?
- Can the surgery cause problems?
- Which hospital is best for my needs?
- How many times have you done this surgery?
Know what your test results mean. It's an important step on your journey toward the healthiest you.
- College of American Pathologists. How to read your pathology report. Accessed March 25, 2022.
- MedlinePlus. How to understand lab results. Accessed March 25, 2022.
- Radiology (ACR), Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and American College of Radiology. Screening wellness. Radiologyinfo.org. Accessed March 26, 2022.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.