The end of the year is a great time to get caught up with your annual checkup and preventive screenings. A checkup can send you into the new year knowing you’re taking care of yourself. The checkup and screenings can detect conditions that may be treated more effectively when caught early.
Commonly recommended screenings
This is a chance for you and your doctor to talk about your preventive care needs for the coming year. During the visit, your doctor may conduct a general health exam to check your heart rate, blood pressure and other biometrics. Usually your doctor will ask about your family health history and lifestyle, screen for cognitive impairments and discuss your current medications and risk factors. Your doctor may also create an immunization and screening schedule for the next 5–10 years.
Osteoporosis bone mineral density test
Osteoporosis is a severe weakening of the bones that can cause breaks, fractures and other painful problems. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but women 65 and older have an increased risk.1 Based on factors like height loss, dropping hormone levels or a recent fracture, your doctor may recommend a bone density test. This test uses X-rays to measure the density of calcium and other important minerals in your bones.2 Depending on the results, your doctor may recommend ways to strengthen your bones or additional tests to find and treat underlying problems.
Breast cancer screening
Early detection is critical to improving outcomes for patients who develop breast cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women 50 to 74 years of age get a mammogram every 2 years. Women 40 to 49 should ask their doctor if they should start getting regular mammograms.3 Your doctor can also show you how to do breast self-exams to help with the early detection of lumps, swelling and other changes.
Most health insurance plans are required to cover regular mammograms for women 40 and older with no out-of-pocket cost. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers free or low-cost mammograms for those who qualify.4
Colon cancer screening
If you’re 50 to 75 years old, your doctor may set up a testing schedule for colon cancer. (Screenings are sometimes recommended earlier depending on risk factors.) These screenings look for precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.5 Many doctors will recommend a yearly fecal occult blood test, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years.6
The USPSTF recommends adults 40 to 70 years of age who are overweight or obese get screened every 3 years for abnormal blood glucose and type 2 diabetes.7 For those living with diabetes, several yearly tests and exams are recommended. The A1c blood test measures blood sugar levels for the past 3 months to ensure you’re in a healthy range. Comprehensive eye exams screen for diabetes-related eye disorders such as retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.8 Foot exams check for redness, cracks, sores, wounds and nerve damage.9
Other exams and tests
Depending on your age and risk factors, your doctor may recommend other exams and tests. A cholesterol/lipid screening is recommended every 5 years, though you may need a yearly test if you have cardiovascular problems or diabetes. Eye exams for glaucoma and macular degeneration should be administered every 2 to 4 years until the age of 64 and then every 1 or 2 years after that. The USPSTF recommends that men 55 to 69 talk to their doctors about the necessity of prostate cancer screenings.10
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This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.
- “Osteoporosis,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 4, 2018, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968.
- “Bone density test,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bone-density-test/about/pac-20385273.
- “Breast Cancer: Screening,” U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/breast-cancer-screening1?ds=1&s=breast%20cancer.
- “What Is Breast Cancer Screening?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm.
- “What Should I Know About Screening?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/index.htm.
- “Understanding and Using Your Insurance: Preventive Care,” Humana, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.humana.com/learning-center/health-and-wellbeing/healthy-living/adult-preventative-care-guidelines.
- “Final Recommendation Statement,” U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, last accessed September, 2018, https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/screening-for-abnormal-blood-glucose-and-type-2-diabetes.
- “Eye Complications,” American Diabetes Association, last accessed September 4, 2018, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/?loc=lwd-slabnav.
- “The Importance of Testing for Diabetics,” Humana, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.humana.com/prevention-and-care/healthy-living-and-prevention/prevention/the-importance-of-testing-for-diabetics.
- “Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed September 4, 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/get-screened.htm/.