We all lead busy lives and it is easy to put off regular exams and screenings, especially if we don’t have an immediate health concern. However, periodic physical examinations are opportunities to review current problems and treatments, screen for diseases, and provide recommendations to keep you healthy. It’s an opportunity for your doctor to get to know you better and to identify any important changes in your health status.
Women should undergo regular blood pressure screening starting at age 18, and screening for high cholesterol starting at age 45 or earlier depending on risk factors. Women should undergo a Pap smear at least every 3 years to be screened for cervical cancer starting at age 21 up until at least age 65. Women should also undergo mammography at least every 2 years between the ages of 50 and 74. Earlier screening may be considered depending on the patient’s history and preference.
Men should undergo regular blood pressure screening starting at age 18, and screening for high cholesterol starting at age 35 or earlier depending on risk factors. Men can talk to their physician about the latest information about prostate cancer screening.
Starting at age 50, men and women should undergo a screening colonoscopy and repeat at least every 10 years until age 75. Depending on age and history, screening for HIV, hepatitis C and other infectious diseases should be individually evaluated.
All of these recommendations vary depending on individual and familial risk factors and well as emerging evidence. Reviewing your own history with your doctor is important in order to individualize your care and make changes as needed from year to year. Your primary care physician’s job is to specialize in you.