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Doctor Recommended Medical Tests & Screenings by Age for Every Adult

Jacqueline Slobin08 Jun 2021

Doctor Recommended Medical Tests & Screenings by Age for Every Adult

There are at least 12 recommended health screenings that you should consider getting at the doctor. The recommended medical tests vary by age depending on what conditions you are at highest risk for, but each typically costs $50 or more, depending on where you go to get tested. 

In early 2020, nearly 1 in 4 Americans reported skipping important medical care because of the cost and this number may have increased in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking for an affordable way to get routine health screenings, Mira may be a great option for you. For only $45/month, Mira members get access to low-cost lab tests, including a health panel, lipid panel, STD panel, A1C test and vitamin D panel. 

Health Screenings for Adults 

As an adult, there are several screenings that are important to monitor and assess your health status. As you age your become more at risk to develop health issues that could be going undetected, so it’s more important than ever to get the screenings you need. Below we list the health screenings that are recommended to adults and explain what these screenings entail. 

When and if you need the following tests will depend on several factors, such as your age, gender, and previous health conditions. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider regarding what tests you should receive. 

  • Height and weight: This screening includes taking your height and weight, which can be used to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Your BMI can be used to assess whether you are at a healthy weight given your height.
  • Blood pressure: Blood pressure is measured by placing a cuff on your upper arm and the results show both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure is used to test your risk for heart disease.
  • Cholesterol check: Your cholesterol levels can be checked by doing a blood test called a lipid profile. These tests may measure your levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, which can indicate your risk for heart disease.
  • Skin screening: A skin screening is a visual examination of your skin where your doctor may check moles or birthmarks that look unusual in color or shape. A skin screening is done to look for early signs of skin cancer.
  • Diabetes screening: Blood glucose tests, such as the A1C, can be done to analyze the levels of sugar in your blood. Abnormal results can be indicators of prediabetes or diabetes.
  • Blood work: Blood work can include a complete blood count (CBC), thyroid panel, liver enzyme markets, and sexually transmitted disease tests. These tests can be used to assess overall health as well as the function of certain organs.
  • Depression screening: A depression screening is usually a questionnaire that you fill out so your health care provider can assess if you are showing any signs of depression.
  • Pap smear: This test includes taking a sample of cells from the cervix and is done to test for cervical cancer in women.
  • Pelvic exam: Pelvic exams are done on women to assess gynecological health, screen for cysts, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer.
  • Breast exam: A breast exam is done to check for signs of breast cancer.
  • Mammogram: Mammograms use low-energy x-rays to screen for masses or lumps that may be a sign of breast cancer.
  • Testicular exam: A testicular exam is done to check for early signs of testicular cancer.
  • Prostate exam: A prostate exam may include a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen test. This test is used to help identify prostate cancer in men. 
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is the examination of the large and small bowel that is used to screen for colorectal cancer and other pre-cancerous polyps.
  • Osteoporosis screening: An osteoporosis screening is a test that uses an ultrasound to examine your bone density. This test is done to screen for osteoporosis, a condition that makes your bones weak. 
  • Lung cancer screening: A low-dose CT scan (LDCT) is a non-invasive procedure that may be conducted to screen for early stages of lung cancer.
  • Fall assessment: A fall assessment screening assesses your risk of suffering from a fall. If your risk is high, your health care provider may give you some tips to reduce your chance of falling.

Recommended Health Screenings By Age 

Health screenings are recommended depending on your age. Below we outline the general age recommended health screenings based on information from Columbia Doctors Nurse Practitioner Group and Tri-City Medical Center

Note that this information is not meant to replace medical care. Your doctor or health care provider may have different recommendations for health screenings based on your health status, family history, and pre-existing medical conditions. 

Recommended Medical Tests for Patients 18-29 Years Old 

Recommended Annual ScreeningsAdditional Screenings for MenAdditional Screenings for Women

Height and weight

Blood pressure

Cholesterol

Skin screening

Testicular exam

Sexually transmitted infections

Pap smear

HPV vaccine

Breast exam

Sexually transmitted infections

Recommended Medical Tests for Patients 30-39 Years Old 

Recommended Annual ScreeningsAdditional Screenings for MenAdditional Screenings for Women

Height and weight

Blood pressure

Cholesterol

Skin screening

Diabetes screening*

Depression screening

TSH test 

Additional blood work 

Testicular exam

Sexually transmitted infections**

Pap smear

HPV vaccine

Breast exam

Sexually transmitted infections**

*Diabetes screening is typically done annually if there are known risk factors present or every other year if BMI is greater than 25 

** Tests for sexually transmitted infections are done based on patient lifestyle or requests. Recommended tests differ for men and women 

Some doctors may recommend that the annual screenings listed above be continued even as you get older. Below are some additional recommended tests that you should specifically consider getting between the ages of 40 and 64. 

Recommended Medical Tests for Patients 40-64 Years Old 

Recommended ScreeningsAdditional Screenings for MenAdditional Screenings for Women

Colonoscopy

Osteoporosis Screening** 

Lung Cancer Screening***

Prostate ExamMammogram
Pelvic Exam 

**Osteoporosis screening is done for individuals ages 50+ with risk factors 

***Lung cancer screening done annually if past smoker and for individuals ages 55+ 

Recommended Medical Tests for Patients Over 65 Years Old 

Recommended ScreeningsAdditional Screenings for MenAdditional Screenings for Women

Colorectal Cancer Screening 

Height and weight 

Fall prevention 

Depression screening 

High dose flu shot

Prostate ExamCervical Cancer screening

Recommended Medical Tests Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What health screenings do women need? 

In addition to the recommended screenings for both men and women, there are certain tests that women should have done at various stages of life. Some of these tests are described below. It is important to speak with your doctor about what tests you need given your current health status. 

  • Pap smear: Most doctors recommend that women begin getting pap smears done at age 21 and continue until age 65. Many doctors recommend doing a pap smear every 3 years or every 5 years in women who also get HPV testing. There are some groups who may need to get tested more frequently, such as women who have HIV, a history of smoking, a weakened immune system, or a previous pap smear that shows precancerous cells. It is important to talk to your doctor about getting a pap smear, as it is an important screening tool for cancer.
  • Breast exams: It is recommended that women over the age of 20 get a breast exam every 1-3 years. Since mammograms are typically not recommended in young women, breast exams are important for screening for breast cancer.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: It is recommended that all women get tested for HIV/AIDS at least once after the age of 20 or more frequently if at high risk for contracting the virus. All sexually active women under the age of 25 should be tested annually for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women over 25 should be tested for STIs if they have multiple partners or believe they are at risk for contracting an STI. Women who are newly pregnant should also be tested for syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV.
  • Mammograms: It is recommended that all women ages 45 to 55 get a mammogram once a year. Women over 55 typically only need to get a mammogram every two years. Once you are 75, you can speak to your doctor about whether it is necessary to continue getting mammograms. More frequent testing may be recommended for those with a family history of breast cancer.
  • Pelvic exam: A pelvic exam is used to assess overall gynecological health and diagnose medical conditions. Many women begin getting pelvic exams around age 40, but some providers may suggest beginning these exams earlier as well.

What health screenings do men need? 

Men should get the recommended annual screenings listed in the charts above in addition to some other tests and screenings. 

  • Testicular exam: Some providers may recommend that men get a testicular exam in order to screen for early stages of testicular cancer. This exam may be more important for men who have risk factors for testicular cancer, such as family history of this type of cancer or a previous germ cell tumor.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: It is recommended that all men get tested for HIV at least once over the age of 20. Sexually active gay and bisexual men should get tested annually for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and syphilis.
  • Prostate exam: Most men should begin getting annual prostate exams at age 50 to help screen for prostate cancer. Men who are at higher risk, such as those with family members who have prostate cancer, may begin screening at age 40 or 45.

Why do the recommended health screenings change with age? 

Annual or bi-annual health screenings are important to identify diseases before they progress or potentially spread. The health screenings recommended for each age group are slightly different, as the risk of developing certain conditions changes as you age. 

For example, osteoporosis screening and fall prevention are not recommended for individuals under the age of 40, as the risk of falling or developing osteoporosis is low at a young age. Likewise, annual pap smears and mammograms may no longer be beneficial for individuals over the age of 75, as these tests detect early-stage cancer which may not become clinically relevant during the patient’s lifetime. 

Therefore, screening for conditions that typically do not affect your age bracket may end up wasting time and money. The appropriate time to start new testing or cease previous testing depends on several factors, so it is important to discuss the tests you need with your doctor. 

Are there any vaccinations that are recommended during health screenings? 

In addition to the childhood vaccines that are required in most states for children to attend public schools, there are several vaccinations that are recommended throughout adulthood as well. If you did not get certain vaccines as a child, some may be recommended during adulthood as well. 

Below we outline some of the recommended vaccinations for adults, but it is important that you speak with your doctor regarding which vaccines are appropriate for you.

  • Flu vaccine: The CDC recommends that all adults get the seasonal flu vaccine each year. This vaccine is particularly important for individuals with chronic health conditions.
  • High dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine: These flu vaccines are available for individuals over the age of 65. They are recommended for older adults as they may initiate a stronger immune response to the vaccine, helping to protect against the flu.
  • HPA vaccine: While the HPV vaccine can start being administered in individuals who are 9 years old, it is recommended that adults ages 19 - 26 get this vaccine if they did not do so as a teenager. Some individuals ages 27 - 45 may also decide to get this vaccine, but you should talk to your doctor about the benefits of the HPV vaccine in this age bracket.
  • Shingles vaccine: The vaccine to prevent shingles is recommended for individuals ages 50 and older. The doses are separated by 2 to 6 months.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines: These vaccines help prevent pneumonia and pneumococcal disease and are typically recommended for adults over 65 or individuals over 50 with a health condition.

Bottom Line 

There are many recommended health screenings that are meant to screen for early signs of disease and health conditions. The recommended screenings, tests, and vaccines vary by age, as your risk of developing certain conditions changes. 

Mira is an alternative to health insurance that can help you access lab tests at a low cost. For only $45/month, you will be able to take control of your health by getting access to low-cost urgent care, prescriptions, and lab tests. Sign up today to get started.

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