Recommended Screenings

It’s probably no surprise that New Year’s resolutions centered on health are among the most popular made each year. A huge part of staying healthy includes getting annual checkups by your primary care doctor.

Experts agree that making sure you include preventative health screenings is also one of the most important things you can do for your health. Preventative health screenings are medical tests or questions used to look for a particular disease, condition or risk factor that could lead to health problems before there are any signs or symptoms. Screenings can help find problems early and when they may be easier to treat. 

Speak with your primary care doctor about screenings and what might be appropriate for you. Recommended screenings are typically covered by health insurance plans so you may want to find out from your insurance plan what is covered and if you need a referral.

Risk factors and screenings 

Although you may feel fine, some diseases and conditions don’t have any symptoms at all. You may also be at risk due to factors such as obesity or a family history of a particular disease such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. 

“Try to find out from family members about medical conditions that might run in your family, and make a list of those diseases and the relatives who had them,” suggests Deborah Blazey-Martin, MD, MPH, Chief, Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Tufts Medical Center. “Bring that list with you to your annual visit, discuss your risk for developing the diseases, and together decide the best ways to keep you healthy—including screenings.”

Recommended screenings

Routine screening recommendations differ among men and women and vary by age ranges. Some can be done right in your primary care provider’s office the same day as your exam while others might require medical imaging or another special procedure at a later date and in a different location. Some should be done every year, while others do not. Speak with your primary care provider about what is right for you. Following are general recommendations for preventive care and screening for adults. Other tests may also be appropriate for you depending on your own medical and family history. 

Women

  • Age 21+ cervical cancer, depression, sexually transmitted disease screening
  • Age 35+ blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and diabetes screening
  • Age 40+ breast cancer screening
  • Age 50+ colorectal cancer screening

Men

  • Age 21+ sexually transmitted disease, depression screening
  • Age 35+ blood pressure, weight, cholesterol and diabetes screening
  • Age 50+ prostate cancer, colorectal cancer screening

Depending on a variety of factors, your medical provider may also suggest you be screened for:

  • Osteoporosis or thinning bones
  • Lung cancer 
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Eye disease 
  • Mental health and substance use disorders 

“Making sure you are seen by your primary care doctor every year is one of the best ways to take care of yourself and try to stay healthy.  This includes having open and honest discussions, following suggestions and recommended preventative health screenings, and asking questions so you can understand and  engage in your own care.” says Dr. Blazey-Martin. 

Talk with your primary care doctor about preventative health screenings and for more information go to https://healthfinder.gov/myHealthfinder/