Adult Health Screening Schedule

Introduction

Health screening is a critical part of your self care. This is the third in the Straight, No Chaser series on self-empowerment. Therefore, today’s message should be clear. If you want to be in control of your health, you must know when and how to engage the system. Health screening is an example of appointments you can’t afford to miss. This post separately addresses health screening recommendations for men and women, ages 40-64. Vaccinations and child screenings will be discussed in a separate post.

Part One: Health Screening For Women – Ages 40 to 64

Women's health screening helps promotes early detection!

Blood Pressure Screening:

  • At age 40, you should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. If you’re seeing a physician at any point during the year, this will be done. Be sure to ask for and document your numbers. Also, if you aren’t seeing a physician, many local pharmacies and various other community opportunities will allow you to stay aware of your blood pressure.
  • If you’re getting it checked on your own, remember the following numbers: if the top number (systolic) is above 120 or the lower number is more than 80, you should schedule an appointment with a health care provider.

Breast Exam

  • Although opinions are evolving about the benefits of breast self-exams in finding cancer or saving lives, it still remains the case that the benefits of early detection without much risk in performing exams render monthly exams harmless. As a result, you should discuss this with your physician, and contact him or her immediately if you notice any change in your breasts.

Cholesterol Screening

  • Cholesterol levels should be checked no less than every 5 years.

Colon Cancer Screening

  • All women between 50-75 should be screened along one of these guidelines:
    • A stool test for blood every year
    • A flexible sigmoidoscopy test every 5 years with a stool test for blood every 3 years
    • A colonoscopy at least every 10 years, and perhaps more often with risk factors such as ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal adenomas
  • Women under 50 years may need screening if a strong family history of colon cancer, polyps, inflammatory bowel disease exists.

Diabetes Screening

  • After age 45, all men should be screened every 3 years.
  • If your blood pressure is more than 135/80 mm Hg, or you have other risk factors for diabetes, you may be checked at any age.
  • If you are overweight, you likely will be screened at younger ages; ask if you should be checked whenever you engage the healthcare system.

Dental Exam

  • At these ages, you should be visiting the dentist once or twice a year for an exam, cleaning and screening for oral cancer.

Eye Exam

  • At ages 40-54: an exam every 2-4 years
  • At ages 55-64: an exam every 1-3 years
  • Exams may be needed more frequently if you have visual difficulties or a significant risk for glaucoma. If you have diabetes, you need an annual eye exam.

Heart Disease Prevention

  • At these ages, an examination is needed to quantify your risks for heart disease.
  • When you have a physical examination, specifically ask if you should be taking a daily aspirin.
Women's health screening

Immunizations

  • Influenza: you should get a flu shot every year.
  • Shingles (herpes zoster): you may get a shingles vaccine once after age 60.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria: you should get a booster ever 10 years, assuming you’ve received the primary vaccine series – if not, you’ll need that first.

Lung Cancer Screening

  • You will receive annual screening for lung cancer if between ages 55-80 and you have a 30 “pack-year” smoking history and if you either are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years.

Mammogram

  • Ages 40-49: Your physician may or may not choose to have a mammogram performed every 1-2 years.
  • Ages 50-75: You should have an exam performed every 1-2 years (frequency based on your risk factors).
  • Mammograms may be recommended at earlier ages with strong family histories (e.g. mother or sister) of breast cancer.

Osteoporosis Screening

  • If you are under age 65 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should be screened.
  • All women over 50 years of age should have a bone density test after a fracture.

Pelvic Exam and Pap Smear

  • Women should have a Pap smear every 3 years, unless your physician is performing both a Pap smear and a human papilloma virus (HPV) test. If so, you are likely to be tested every 5 years. If you have had a total hysterectomy you will no longer receive Pap smears in the absence of a previous diagnosis of cervical cancer.
  • Do you have high risk sexual activity? If so, you should be screened for chlamydia, gonorrhea and other considerations at the physician’s discretion.

Physical Exam:

  • Yes, this is a very important and basic screening tool. Every year if not more often with every exam, your height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and respiratory (breathing) rate) should be checked.
  • Your annual exam will also assess your risks due to alcohol, tobacco and other illicit drug use. Also, it will screen for depression, inadequate diet and exercise, and improper use of seat belts and smoke detectors. You should expect to receive a skin exam as part of your physical exam.

Part 2: Health Screenings For Men – Ages 40 to 64

Health screening for self-empowerment!

Blood Pressure Screening:

  • At age 40, you should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. If you’re seeing a physician at any point during the year, this will be done. Also, be sure to ask for and document your numbers. If you aren’t seeing a physician, these days local pharmacies and various other opportunities through communities will allow you to stay aware of your blood pressure.
  • In case you’re getting it checked on your own, remember the following numbers. If the top number (systolic) is above 120, or if the lower number is more than 80, you should schedule an appointment with a health care provider.

Cholesterol Screening

  • Cholesterol levels should be checked no less than every 5 years.

Colon Cancer Screening

  • All men between 50-75 should be screened along one of these guidelines:
    • A stool test for blood every year
    • A flexible sigmoidoscopy test every 5 years with a stool test for blood every 3 years
    • A colonoscopy at least every 10 years. Perhaps it may be needed more often if you have risk factors such as ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal adenomas.
  • Men under 50 years may need screening if a strong family history of colon cancer, polyps, inflammatory bowel disease exists.

Diabetes Screening

  • After age 45, all men should be screened every 3 years.
  • If your blood pressure is more than 120/80 mm Hg, or you have other risk factors for diabetes, you may be checked at any age.
  • If you are overweight, you likely will be screened at younger ages. Therefore, ask if you should be checked whenever you engage the healthcare system.

Dental Exam

  • At these ages, you should be visiting the dentist once or twice a year for an exam, cleaning and screening for oral cancer.

Eye Exam

  • At ages 40-54: an exam every 2-4 years
  • At ages 55-64: an exam every 1-3 years
  • Exams may be needed more frequently if you have visual difficulties or a significant risk for glaucoma. Also, if you have diabetes, you need an annual eye exam.

Heart Disease Prevention

  • At these ages, an examination is needed to quantify your risks for heart disease.
  • When you have a physical examination, specifically ask if you should be taking a daily aspirin.

Immunizations

  • Influenza: you should get a flu shot every year.
  • Shingles (herpes zoster): you may get a shingles vaccine once after age 60.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria: you should get a booster ever 10 years, assuming you’ve received the primary vaccine series. Unfortunately, if you haven’t, you’ll need that first.

Lung Cancer Screening

  • You will receive annual screening for lung cancer if between ages 55-80, have a 30 “pack-year” smoking history and if you either are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years.

Osteoporosis Screening

  • Discuss with your healthcare provider if you’re between ages 50-70.

Physical Exam:

  • Yes, this is a very important and basic screening tool. Every year (if not more often with every exam), your height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and respiratory (breathing) rate) should be checked.
  • Your annual exam will also assess your risks due to alcohol, tobacco and other illicit drug use, depression, inadequate diet and exercise, and improper use of seat belts and smoke detectors.

Prostate Cancer Screening:

  • Discuss with your physician at age 45 if you’re African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer in a first-degree relative younger than age 65.
  • Discuss with your physician otherwise if your older than 50.
  • In case you’re wondering, prostate exams are no longer routinely done on men without symptoms. Furthermore, the PSA test is falling out of favor; the potential benefits of PSA screening haven’t been shown to outweigh potential harm done by treatment.

Testicular Exam

  • Testicular self-exams are no longer recommended (source: US Preventive Services Task Force). Your physician may choose to examine you based on risks and/or symptoms.
Health screenings help you know your status!

If this seems like a lot, well, you’re worth it. You can always print this out and compare notes with your physician. Odds are they’ll have all of this covered. The most important thing is to get checked!

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