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What health screening tests do people age 40 and older need?

Health screening tests for people age 40 and older are based on multiple variables, which include age, sex and risk factors. Risks factors include family history and lifestyle habits. Most people over 40 should have their lipids (cholesterol) checked, women should get a Pap smear and may get a mammogram (some recommend starting at 50). Other screening tests at age 40 may be recommended based on your risks as mentioned above.

The following are health screening tests that people age 40 and older need. Depending on a person's risk factors, some of these health screening tests may be indicated sooner than age 40.

  • Basic blood work should include diabetes screen with a fasting glucose (blood sugar) level and cholesterol screen. Depending on the person’s circumstances/risk factors, his or her doctor may recommend other screening blood work as well.
  • For women, pelvic exams/Pap smears/mammograms are recommended on regular intervals. Some of these recommendations start at age 21. Screening for breast cancer may start sooner than 40 for those with risk factors such as family history.
  • Colon cancer screening is recommended starting at age 50, usually with colonoscopies.

Again, these tests may be indicated sooner if symptoms or risk factors exist.

There are several other recommendations for screening that may be important for a person individually. Overall, the big take home message is that people should see their primary care doctor on a regular basis every 1 to 2 years to discuss these, and make a plan together to make sure they remain at their healthiest for years to come.

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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.