Which preventive screenings should I get?

What you need depends on multiple factors, including your age, gender and personal risk factors such as family history, medical problems (including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease) and lifestyle choices. While many screenings have standard timeframes for initiation and follow-up, these same screenings may need to happen sooner or more frequently than the standard timeframes in individuals with different risk factors. Your primary care physician is the best resource to help determine when it’s most appropriate for you to obtain recommended screening tests.

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When it comes to a disease like cancer, preventive screening can help save your life.

Some types of cancer can be found before they cause symptoms. A screening is a test or exam that helps find cancer before it has spread.

Some recommended cancer screenings include colonoscopy, mammograms and Pap tests. If someone is at a higher risk for cancer, for example a heavy smoker, he or she may have different recommendations for cancer screening based on lifestyle and current health.

Not all cancer types have recommended screenings.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Part of your routine checkup is to look for any signals your body is sending that might not be obvious, which is what preventive screenings are for. Heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer are all examples of diseases that can be hard to recognize without special tests. This is why getting your blood pressure checked or going in for that colonoscopy is so important. Without these screenings, you might find out that you have a problem when it’s already too late to prevent it.

Not everyone needs every type of screening, though. This is where your doctor comes in. He or she can discuss your family history, age, gender, lifestyle and current health issues that might put you at risk for certain diseases. He or she can also help you weigh the risks of the screening against the risks of possible disease. Together, you can come up with a schedule for screening to keep you on top of your health while meeting your overall wellness goals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.