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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

Family 2009

Practicing Healthy Adult Living

Get the screening tests you need

Mammograms, Pap smears, colorectal cancer screens, and other tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which of the following tests you should have and when. The recommendations come from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and NIH Institutes.

  • Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
  • Cholesterol: Women should have their cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 45; men every five years beginning at 35. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, begin checking cholesterol at age 20.
  • Colorectal Cancer: Test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help decide which test is right for you.
  • Depression: If you've felt "down," sad, or hopeless, and have taken little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, ask your doctor about screening for depression.
  • Diabetes: Screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Breast Cancer: Have a mammogram every one to two years starting at age 40.
  • Osteoporosis (Women): Have a bone density test at age 65 to screen for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). If you are between 60 and 64 and weigh 154 lbs. or less, talk to your doctor about being tested.
  • Cervical Cancer (Women): Get a Pap smear every one to three years if you have been sexually active or are older than 21.
  • Prostate Cancer (Men): Discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal examination (DRE) to screen for prostate cancer.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Your doctor can help you decide whether to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, and, for women, also chlamydia.

After age 50, people also should have an annual fasting blood sugar check for diabetes, regular colonoscopies for cancer of the colon, serum prostatin-specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate cancer, and mammograms for breast cancer.

Work out regularly

Physical activity burns calories. Burn more than you eat each day and the pounds will come off. Try to exercise four to six times a week for 30 to 60 minutes at a time.

Winter 2009 Issue: Volume 4 Number 1 Page 7