You should visit your health care provider regularly, even if you feel healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for medical issues
- Assess your risk for future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations and other preventive care services
- Help you get to know your provider in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, you should still see your provider for regular checkups. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol level also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. Simple blood tests can check for these conditions.
There are specific times when you should see your provider or receive specific health screenings. The US Preventive Services Task Force publishes a list of recommended screenings. Below are screening guidelines for men ages 40 to 64.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
Have your blood pressure checked at least once every year. Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked.
Ask your provider if you need your blood pressure checked more often if:
- You have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or are overweight or have certain other health conditions
- You have a first-degree relative with high blood pressure
- You are Black
- Your blood pressure top number is from 120 to 129 mm Hg, or the bottom number is from 70 to 79 mm Hg
If the top number is 130 mm Hg or greater or the bottom number is 80 mm Hg or greater, this is considered stage 1 hypertension. Schedule an appointment with your provider to learn how you can lower your blood pressure.
Cholesterol screening should begin at age 35 for men with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Repeat cholesterol screening should take place:
- Every 5 years for men with normal cholesterol levels
- More often if changes occur in lifestyle (including weight gain and diet)
- More often if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions
COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING
If you are under age 45, talk to your provider about getting screened. You may need to be screened if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps. Screening may also be considered if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
If you are age 45 to 75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several screening tests available:
- A stool-based fecal occult blood (gFOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
- A stool sDNA test every 1 to 3 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or every 10 years with stool testing FIT done every year
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as:
- Ulcerative colitis
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- A history of growths in your colon called adenomatous polyps
- Go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
- All adults who do not have risk factors for diabetes should be screened starting at age 35 and repeated every 3 years.
- If you have other risk factors for diabetes, such as a first degree relative with diabetes, overweight or obesity, high blood pressure, prediabetes, or a history of heart disease, you may be tested more often.
- If you are overweight and have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and are planning to become pregnant, screening is recommended.
- Have an eye exam every 2 to 4 years ages 40 to 54 and every 1 to 3 years ages 55 to 64. Your provider may recommend more frequent eye exams if you have vision problems or glaucoma risk.
- Have an eye exam that includes an examination of your retina (back of your eye) at least every year if you have diabetes.
Commonly needed vaccines include:
- Flu shot: get one every year
- COVID-19 vaccine: ask your provider what is best for you
- Tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: have as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines if you did not receive it as an adolescent
- Tetanus-diphtheria: have a booster (or Tdap) every 10 years
- Varicella vaccine: receive 2 doses if you never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine and were born in 1980 or after
- Hepatitis B vaccine: receive 2, 3, or 4 doses, depending on your exact circumstances, if you did not receive these as a child or adolescent, until age 59
- Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine: at or after age 50
Ask your provider if you should receive other immunizations, especially if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or are at increased risk for some diseases such as pneumonia.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SCREENING
Screening for hepatitis C: all adults ages 18 to 79 should get a one-time test for hepatitis C.
Screening for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): all people ages 15 to 65 should get a one-time test for HIV.
Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and other infections.
LUNG CANCER SCREENING
You should have an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) if:
- You are age 50 to 80 years AND
- You have a 20 pack-year smoking history AND
- You currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
- If you are age 50 to 64 and have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should discuss screening with your provider.
- Risk factors can include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of hip fracture or osteoporosis.
All adults should visit their provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for diseases
- Assess risk of future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations and other preventive care services
- Maintain a relationship with a provider in case of an illness
Your height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) should be checked at every exam.
During your exam, your provider may ask you about:
- Depression and anxiety
- Diet and exercise
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- Safety, such as use of seat belts and smoke detectors
- Your medicines and risk for interactions
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
If you're 55 through 69 years old, before having the test, talk to your provider about the pros and cons of having a PSA test. Ask about:
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from prostate cancer.
- Whether there is any harm from prostate cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when discovered.
- Whether you have a higher risk of prostate cancer than others.
If you are age 55 or younger, screening is not generally recommended. You should talk with your provider about if you have a higher risk for prostate cancer. Risk factors include:
- Having a family history of prostate cancer (especially a brother or father)
- Being African American
- If you choose to be tested, the PSA blood test is repeated over time (yearly or less often), though the best frequency is not known.
- Prostate examinations are no longer routinely done on men with no symptoms.
- Your provider may check your skin for signs of skin cancer, especially if you're at high risk. People at high risk include those who have had skin cancer before, have close relatives with skin cancer, or have a weakened immune system.
- The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends against performing testicular self-exams. Doing testicular self-exams has been shown to have little to no benefit.
Health maintenance visit - men - ages 40 to 64; Physical exam - men - ages 40 to 64; Yearly exam - men - ages 40 to 64; Checkup - men - ages 40 to 64; Men's health - ages 40 to 64; Preventive care - men - ages 40 to 64
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Test Your Knowledge
Review Date 4/30/2022
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 04/18/2023. Internal review and update on 08/01/23.