Guide To Health Screenings At Every Age

Older patience consulting with doctor
Written by Risa Schulman
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4 minutes

Health screenings are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Routine testing can help with early detection and enable you and your doctor to better monitor chronic conditions, like diabetes or high cholesterol. While routine health screenings can’t prevent or predict every health condition, they can give you and your medical team the knowledge you need to better manage your health, and combat any new or chronic health issues.

Recommended Health Screenings by Age

Health Screenings For Adults 18-39 1,2,

Health screenings for adults aged 18-29 include :

  • Height & Weight
  • Blood Pressure
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing
  • Skin Screening: Ask your doctor to examine any moles that look suspicious
  • Cholesterol: You should complete a cholesterol check in your twenties. If your cholesterol is high or you have other risk factors, you should continue to check your cholesterol annually. If your levels are normal, your cholesterol should be checked every 4-6 years. 3
  • Diabetes testing: If you have risk factors for diabetes, like family history, high blood pressure, or high BMI, your doctor may test your blood sugar level for diabetes.
  • Immunizations: Around age 19, experts recommend a Tdap vaccine if you did not receive one as a teen. A booster vaccine is generally recommended every 10 years. Ask your doctor to review your immunization history to identify any vaccines you may be missing.

Women who are in this age range should also have the following health screenings, either at the doctor’s office or through self-exams 2 :

  • Cervical cancer screening: Starting at age 21, women should have a Pap test every 3 years.
  • Breast cancer screening: Women in this age range should do a monthly self-exam. While mammograms are not recommended for most women under 40, your physician may recommend a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about your breast health.

Health Screenings for Adults 40-64

In this age range, you should keep up with the above screenings annually or as recommended by your doctor. In addition, you should schedule the following health checks4,5:

  • Colonoscopy: This procedure should be completed around age 50. Depending on your results, you may need additional testing annually, or once every 5 to 10 years.
  • Diabetes screening: Around age 44, you should begin to be screened for diabetes every 3 years.
  • Lung cancer screening: Individuals who have the following risk factors should begin annual screening for lung cancer6:
    • Age 55+
    • Have a history of heavy smoking (about 30 years of smoking about 1 pack per day)
    • Currently smoke or have quit in the last 15 years
  • Shingles vaccination: Your doctor may recommend a shingles vaccine around age 50.
  • Osteoporosis screening: Bone density tests are recommended for all women over age 50. Men in this age range should discuss testing with their doctor if they have risk factors for osteoporosis, including family history, long-term steroid use, smoking, a low body weight, and excessive alcohol use. 7
  • Mammogram (women): Women 50 and older should have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years, depending on their level of risk. Some physicians may recommend mammograms around age 40, so be sure to ask your doctor what’s right for you.
  • Prostate cancer screening (men): Around age 55, men should consider a prostate exam to screen for prostate cancer. Men at high risk of prostate cancer should consider receiving prostate exams at an earlier age.7 Speak with your doctor to assess your risk and determine if you should undergo the exam.

Health Screenings for Adults 65+

At this age, you should continue the above screenings as recommended by your doctor. You may need to visit the doctor more often to monitor health conditions linked with aging. In addition, adults over age 65 should screen for 8:

  • Glaucoma: Risk for glaucoma increases around age 65. This disease can damage the optic nerve and eventually lead to blindness. Individuals in this age group should get regular checkups with an eye doctor to reduce the risk of glaucoma.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (men): This condition, which occurs when the aorta swells, can lead to an aortic tear. Men in this age group are at a higher risk of developing this condition, especially if they’ve smoked.

In this age range, some individuals may discontinue various routine screenings depending on age and health conditions. For example, women over 65 who haven’t been diagnosed with cervical cancer or precancer and have had three negative Pap tests in the last 10 years can stop having Pap tests, with the doctor’s approval. If you fall in this age range, discuss screenings with your physician and only discontinue testing with the doctor’s approval.

By staying up-to-date on health screenings as you age, you can continue to monitor various health conditions and give yourself the best chance of early detection. Of course, every individual is unique and may require health screenings at different ages. Be sure to visit your doctor at least once a year to ensure you’re not missing any important screening.


Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. took her lifelong love of science, people and the fulfillment of potential to create a multifaceted career in R&D, business, health and wellness, and empowering individuals. 

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