After 50, What Tests Should I Request During a Physical?

Q: After the age of 50, what tests should I be receiving during my annual physical?

A: Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about testing for the conditions below. Note that there are many, many screening tests available that do not have sufficient evidence to support their routine use.ďż˝ Talk to your doctor about which screening tests apply to you and when and how often you should be tested.

For Men:

• Obesity: Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. (BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.) You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at:

• High Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if:

You have diabetes.
You have high blood pressure.
Heart disease runs in your family.
You smoke.

• Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

• Colorectal Cancer: Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.

• Diabetes: Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and every 3 years if you don’t.

• Depression: Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt “down,” sad, or hopeless over the last 2 weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.

• Sexually Transmitted Infections: Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted infections.

• HIV: Talk to your doctor about HIV screening if you:

Have had sex with men since 1975.
Have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Have used or now use injection drugs.
Exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
Have past or present sex partners who are HIV-infected, are bisexual, or use injection drugs.
Are being treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.

• Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked (100 or more cigarettes during your lifetime), you need to be screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in your abdomen.

For Women add:

• Thyroid Test: Every 5 years beginning at age 35

• Bone Density for osteoporosis: At least once after the age of 65

• Mammogram: Every 1-2 years

• Breast Exam: Every year

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting


Oana Vasiloiu
yonette V5 years ago

Thanks for sharing us.

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

good reminders

Bob P.


Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago


KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Dianne P.
Dianne Prang8 years ago

I too am surprised a colonoscopy was not mentioned. My mother died of it in her 60s...
I live in Canada and it is standard over the age of 50 NOW...
When you have pain, it is basically a higher stage of cancer and easily enters your lymphatic system... as the surgeon told us.... it one takes one of these cells to have it spread.

One of the most common cancers is lung..... From what I have read, it is vastly underfunded. The lung alliance is a large source of information.. I am concerned as both my grandfather and father died of this cancer in their early 60s.
I have learned from the alliance site from actual patients that affects many and I mean many non smokers.

Someone mentiond Dr Mercola... I subsribe as well since I am at that age I need to take care of myself and stress is more difficult with age....
Having enjoyed better health than most up to age 40, it was too easy to abuse in ways.
The wealth of current information astounds me... I love it.


Lilith Graves
Lilith Graves8 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Lady Xanadu
Lady Xanadu8 years ago


Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago

Valerie C.
Valerie C8 years ago

I'm surprised to see that colorectal screenings were not mentioned for women. Women die of colorectal cancer just as easily as men do and are just as at risk as men.