Recommended health screenings for all life’s stages

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Wondering when you should start screenings for cholesterol, bone density and more? Here is a guide to help you keep track of recommended routine screenings. 

Health screenings are important for people of all ages, but the screening tests may vary based on your age. Your physician should perform some of these screenings at your annual wellness visit, and there are some that you should routinely perform yourself.

“Early detection and regular monitoring is crucial to treating cancers, controlling chronic issues like diabetes, and preventing heart attacks and strokes. This all adds up to a better peace of mind and being more in charge of your own health,” said Richard Grucz, Jr., M.D., a Beaumont family medicine physician.

There are many health screening tests that are age-specific and may not be needed every year. Others should be done annually, including:

  • height and weight
  • blood pressure
  • flu shot

In addition to the screenings listed above, here are recommended health screenings by age:

18 - 39

  • a cholesterol check should be completed in your twenties, and then annually once you turn 35; it will be checked every five years if normal, annually if you have risk factors
  • full body skin check to examine for suspicious moles or skin lesions
  • women: exam for breast lumps
  • women: pelvic exam
  • women: pap smear should be conducted every three years starting at the age of 21
  • men: testicular exam

40 - 64

The screenings in the 18 - 39 age group should continue to be completed annually, or as recommended by your physician.

  • women: mammograms start the age of 40 and should be done annually; if breast cancer runs in your family or you have other risk factors, you may need to begin regular mammograms at an earlier age
  • men: prostate screenings start at the age 50 unless you are a high-risk individual then you start at the age of 40
  • full body scan for suspicious moles or skin lesions should be completed annually, as well as fasting blood sugar levels for signs of diabetes
  • colonoscopy should be completed at age 50 or ten years earlier than the youngest family member with colon cancer; with normal results, colorectal cancer screenings should be completed every 10 years

65 YEARS AND OLDER

Many of the screenings above should still be completed annually, in addition to those screening tests, there are a few that you should start at the age of 65:

  • starting at the age of 65, men and women should have a bone density study every 2 - 5 years; this may start at the age of 60 if you’re in a high-risk population
  • ask your physician about need for pneumococcal and shingles vaccinations
  • pneumonia vaccine every five years for certain conditions and risk factors
  • height and weight (shrinking height could be a sign of osteoporosis)

There are also some screening tests that your doctor might recommend based on your health history. For example, your physician may recommend a CT lung cancer screening if you are between the ages of 55 and 74 and are a current or former smoker with a history of at least 30 “pack years” of smoking. If you do not meet these guidelines, this screening will not be recommended for you.

It’s important to share any concerns or questions you have, and any changes to your health history. This history could be critical to the care and screenings your doctor suggests to maximize your health.

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