Even if you feel healthy, it is important to get the health screenings recommended by your doctor to stay well. Ask your doctor which health screenings are right for you. Here are a few screenings in general and for what is specific to men and women.
- Cholesterol screening/lipid profile – Start screenings at age 20, and every 5 years afterward.
- Diabetes screening – Have one every year after age 45; depending on risk factors, get screened earlier and more often.
- Bone mineral density tests – Get tested every 5 years starting at age 65, or sooner and more often based on risk factors.
- Colon cancer screening – Plan to have a colonoscopy at age 50, and every 10 years after. If you have symptoms or risk factors, your doctor may recommend you have a colonoscopy more frequently.
- Eye exams and vision screening – Start at age 18, and then get checked every 1 to 3 years after, or more frequently if you have diabetes.
- Hearing test – Take this test every 10 years up to age 50 during adulthood, and every 3 years after that.
- Skin cancer screening – You can start at any age. You should also check yourself by looking carefully at your skin each month for new mole growth or changes to moles you already have. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your skin examined.
- Vitamin D test – This screening is a simple blood test, and will be recommended by your doctor depending on your age and health condition.
- Dental exam – See your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. Gum, tooth, and mouth health is linked to overall physical health.
- C-reactive protein (CRP) test – Take this test when recommended by your doctor to check for inflammation. Results may indicate infection or chronic inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or heart disease.
Specific to Women:
- Pregnancy diabetes screenings – If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about diabetes testing.12
- Pelvic exam and pap smear – Get every year starting at age 21, or within 3 years of starting sexual activity.
- Physical breast exams – Start checking your own breasts for lumps, thickening, changes in the skin or discharge from the nipples around age 18. You also should have your breasts checked by a medical professional. This can be done every year at the same time as your pelvic examination.
- Mammograms – Get one every year after age 40. If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, earlier than age 40 is recommended. Experts suggest starting mammograms 5 to 10 years younger than your relative’s age when she was diagnosed.
Specific to Men:
Experts agree that men should have regular checks for prostate cancer from age 50 onward. If you’re having trouble urinating, your doctor may want to check sooner. African-American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer, should talk to their doctors about beginning to screen at age 45.