Stay Healthy in 2014: 6 Health Screenings to Schedule This Year

January 03, 2014
by Michael Barber
Stay Healthy in 2014: 6 Health Screenings to Schedule This Year

Benjamin Franklin once said, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." If you're hoping to keep your health in check, you may want to see your doctor more in the coming year. Here are some screenings you should look into. They depend on your age and gender.

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Everyone: Routine Checkup

Assuming that you're a relatively healthy adult, one routine checkup a year is enough to make sure you're health is headed in the right direction. If you haven't had your annual checkup, and especially if you can't remember when you had your last routine checkup, you'll want to schedule that in the next 12 months (if not sooner).

By having a checkup each year, you're more likely to catch things early on so they can be prevented before becoming major problems. In addition, insurances typically cover these exams 100 percent, so other than time, it's no cost to you. These checkups include personal history, blood pressure, body mass index, preventive screenings, and a physical exam.

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Everyone: Other Screenings

Depending on the results of the routine checkup, your doctor might request more screenings. These might include screenings for skin cancer, high cholesterol, or thyroid activity. At the routine checkup, be sure to answers questions thoroughly and let the doctor know of any unusual problems that you've noticed, such as digestive issues or decreased energy. Your doctor will help decide if you need additional screenings to check for causes.  

Women: Pap Test

Every year women should have a Pap test to check for cervical cancer. Since nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by an infection, it's essential to check annually for precancerous cervix lesions. It typically takes one to two years after infection before it becomes cancer.

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Women: Bone Density Test

Depending on age and risk factors, women will want to have a bone density test performed to check for the risk of osteoporosis. This is sometimes performed as early as 40, but should be done at least once by age 50 (though may need to be done more often, as determined by your doctor). This test uses X-rays to measure minerals in bones, which may prevent bone breaks. 

Women: Mammogram

Depending on risk factors, women will want to start having annual mammograms. This is an X-ray that is taken to check for both cancerous and benign conditions that might require more testing. Women at high risk will want to start earlier. Otherwise, annual exams should be performed every year starting at age 50. 

Men: Prostate and Testicular Cancer Screenings

For men that have a high risk of prostate cancer (such as having close relatives who had it), a digital rectal exam or the prostate-specific antigen blood test should be done as early as age 40. Otherwise, this should be annually by the time men reach the age of 50.

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Become more proactive with your health. It's up to you to get these health screenings scheduled. With just an ounce of prevention, you may save yourself from needing many pounds of cure later on.