“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more than a saying. Studies show that taking action now can help keep you healthier in the long run. Early detection can help reduce the risk of more serious complications and their physical, emotional, and financial effects.
Part of staying healthy is having regular checkups and doing preventive screenings. That’s why it’s important to discuss with your primary care provider what you should be doing and when to help keep yourself and your family members healthy.
Depending on your age and health factors, regular checkups don’t have to happen every year. If you are
- 18 to 21, checkups should occur every year;
- 22 to 44, once every 1-3 years
- 45 to 64, every year
- 65 or older, and over every year
It's always a good idea to have your blood pressure checked regularly. In addition, there are screenings to help identify health issues that could become more serious in the future.
Colon Cancer Screening
If you are 50 to 75 with no risk factors, you should have:
- a colonoscopy every 10 years;
- a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; or
- a stool-based test every year—these can be done at home.
But, if you are a black, indigenous, or person of color, you should:
- begin colon cancer screenings at 45.
And if you have a family history of colon cancer, you should:
- start screenings at age 40 or even earlier and discuss increasing their frequency.
If you are 16 to 24, you should have:
- a chlamydia test every year.
Breast Cancer Screening
If you are 50 to 74, you should have:
- a mammogram every 2 years.
But if you are a black, indigenous, or person of color, you should:
- start at 18 and talk to your provider about having mammograms more often.
Cervical Cancer Screening
If you are 24 to 29, you should have:
- a Pap test every 3 years.
If you are 30 to 64 years-old, you should have:
- a Pap and HPV test every 5 years.
But, if you have a history of abnormal test results, cervical cancer, HIV, or another condition that jeopardizes your immune system, discuss whether you should have screenings more often.
And if you’ve had a hysterectomy, you don’t need a Pap test.
Keep in mind that everyone is not the same and that is especially true for medical care.
If you have risk factors like smoking or a family history of certain health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, you should talk to your health care provider about the best way to monitor your health conditions. It could mean you have more frequent checkups or screenings.
It’s also a good idea to find out if your health insurance covers these services before your appointment.