You know the saying — prevention is the best medicine. Sticking to a consistent health screening schedule is key to preventing chronic illnesses and catching any issues early. But how do you know what kinds of conditions to watch out for during the different stages of your life? Here’s a quick guide for both men and women on the potential health issues you should get screened for during each decade.
In Your 20s and 30s
For most young adults, general wellness and sexual health are the main concerns. Women in their 20s should have a Pap test to check for cervical cancer every three years. In their 30s and older, women should have a combined Pap and HPV test every five years, according to current guidelines from the American Cancer Society.
At any annual checkup, men and women should be screened for heart health. This includes monitoring risk factors like blood pressure, weight, body mass index and waist circumference. You can also have your cholesterol levels taken at these regular checkups.
Lastly, men and women at this age who are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections should get tested regularly.
In Your 40s
During your 40s, your doctor may want to screen you for diabetes or prediabetes and pay closer attention to risk factors for heart disease.
Women should get a mammogram annually starting in the age range of 40 to 45, depending of family history and other factors. You may also want to see a dermatologist every few years or perform an annual skin check to keep an eye out for skin cancer.
Vision changes — especially farsightedness, where your ability to see objects up-close worsens — also tend to start at this age. If you haven’t been seeing an eye doctor, now would be the time to start. Even if you aren’t experiencing major vision issues, have your eyesight checked every couple years.
In Your 50s
This decade is when cancer screenings begin for most people. Women should continue mammograms, dropping back to every other year starting at age 55.
Both men and women start colon cancer screenings at age 50. A colonoscopy every 10 years is the most commonly recommended screening exam; however, there are other tests you can get to check for colon cancer. Your doctor can suggest what is best for you.
Men may consider prostate cancer screening in their 50s and older if they have risk factors or a family history of the condition. Talk to your doctor about whether you may benefit from prostate cancer screening.
In Your 60s and Older
During your 60s, you’ll keep up with the screenings you’ve already been receiving regularly. Continue with vision, dental, heart disease and cancer screenings. Women who have consistently had normal Pap tests can stop getting them at age 65. Women and men over 60 may want to add bone density tests to look for osteoporosis.
It is always a great time to take stock of your health. When was the last time you had a checkup? Do you know the status of your cholesterol and other blood markers? Your doctor can guide you on what kinds of health screenings are best for you based on your current health, lifestyle, family history and risk factors.