A Guide to Routine Screenings to Seek Out as You Age

As we age, a healthy lifestyle and medical care are vital to maintaining our bodies. And taking preventative measures is key to longevity. Often a routine screening will catch a disease in a person who otherwise has no symptoms. So it’s important to know which tests to get and when.

MedlinePlus — a National Institutes of Health website that provides health information to the general public — details the routine screenings adults should receive at every stage of their life. It’s imperative to remember these are just basic guidelines for a generally healthy person. Based on this overview, you and your physician can develop a care plan that meets your individual needs.

Ages 18 to 39

doctor talking to a male patient at office

Everyone

According to the MedlinePlus entries on health screenings, everyone ages 18 to 39 should have their blood pressure checked at least every three to five years — and more frequently if there are any red flags. Likewise, they should have cholesterol screenings once every five years or sooner in some cases. Furthermore, they should be checked for diabetes if they have any risk factors.

It’s also important to keep up with dental exams once or twice every year, as well as vision exams at least every two years. And everyone in this age group should learn how to do a self-check for signs of skin cancer.

Women

Women in this age group do not yet need mammograms, but they should learn from their doctors how to perform a monthly breast self-exam (though experts disagree on its effectiveness). They also should have a Pap smear and pelvic exam every three years, but at age 30 that can stretch to every five years if all the tests have been normal.

In this age range, women should receive extra screenings if they have a higher risk of certain diseases, including breast cancer and colon cancer. And they should let their doctors know about any lifestyle factors, such as alcohol and tobacco use or a family history, that might contribute to the risk.

Men

For this age group, MedlinePlus recommends men should inform their doctors about anything in their family history or lifestyle that might contribute to disease, necessitating extra screenings. The American Cancer Society especially recommends screening for colon cancer if there’s a higher-than-average risk.

Ages 40 to 64

Doctor shaking hands with patient in clinic

Everyone

People ages 40 to 64 should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year and more often if they have certain health conditions. They may continue with cholesterol screens every five years unless there are red flags. And by their mid-40s, they should be checked for diabetes every three years. Unless risk factors are present, colon cancer screening should begin at age 50.

Regular skin exams and dental cleanings continue to be important. And MedlinePlus recommends having a vision exam at least every two to four years, becoming more frequent with age, to look for age-related eye diseases and declining vision.

Women

Between ages 40 and 64, women should have a Pap smear at least every three years. They also should begin to have mammograms every one to two years, though healthy women in their 40s might not yet need them. Furthermore, women over 50 should have bone density tests, and everyone in this age range should be screened for osteoporosis if they carry risk factors.

Men

Certain at-risk men in this age group should ask their doctors about heart attack preventatives, such as a daily aspirin, according to MedlinePlus. By age 50, men should discuss prostate cancer with their doctors to determine their risk. According to the American Cancer Society, some men who might be at a higher risk and should get screened younger “include African-American men and men with close family members (father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.”

Ages 65 and older

Doctor discussing records with senior patient

Everyone

People age 65 and older should continue checking their blood pressure at least annually, as well as screening for diabetes every three years. And if their cholesterol is normal, they can keep on testing it every five years. Plus, until at least age 75, they should continue screening for colon cancer. Also at this age, regular dental visits are still important, as are vision and hearing tests.

Women

Women should get mammograms every one to two years through age 75 and then determine with their doctors whether they should continue them. Women also should continue receiving bone density tests. But after age 65, some women may discontinue Pap smears, as long as they haven’t been diagnosed with cervical cancer and have had three negative tests within the past 10 years, according to MedlinePlus.

Men

Men should continue to discuss with their doctors the benefits and risks of prostate cancer testing, as the screening is no longer routine for those without symptoms. They also should talk to their doctors about risk factors for osteoporosis, including low body weight, smoking and drinking, a fracture after age 50 and a family history of the condition.

Main image credit: DragonImages/Thinkstock

40 comments

Leanne K
Leanne K1 months ago

Ageing is a crock of s..t

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y1 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Val P
Val P4 months ago

thanks!

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Ruth S
Ruth S6 months ago

Thanks.

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Great info anf help Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Great information and sdvice Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

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