The Busy Person’s Guide to Health Screenings

Health Screenings

When? Where? How Often?

Teeth cleaned every six months – check. Hair cut every six to eight weeks – got it. Taxes filed every April 15 – okay sure, if I must. But keep track of when to get what health screenings? That can get confusing.

At Roper St. Francis we believe prevention is the best cure. A great way to stay healthy and ahead of the game is to get the appropriate screenings for your age. Plus, we make it easy and convenient to get labs drawn or imaging screenings done at our numerous Roper St. Francis screening locations (hyperlink).

Here’s the busy person’s guide for commonly recommended screenings. Call 727-DOCS or click on Find a Doc to receive a free doctor referral and set up an appointment for your annual physical today.

Women: Age 21 and older:

Pap Smear: every 3 years

Recommendations from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggest women should get screened for cervical cancer (Pap smear) when they turn 21 or become sexually active, and it can be discontinued at age 65. The Pap smear has dramatically decreased deaths from cervical cancer.

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Mammogram: Women should get an annual mammogram after age 40 (according the American Cancer Society guideline). Women at high risk or with a family history of breast cancer should ask their doctor about different guidelines.

Men and Women: age 20 and older

Fasting Lipoprotein Profile: every 5 years

Everyone over the age of 20 should have a fasting lipoprotein profile – which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. While it is recommend every 5 years, the frequency of follow up will depend on your level of risk.

What do you know about cholesterol?

Blood Pressure Screening: every 2 years if healthy

High blood pressure is a silent killer. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. To ensure your blood pressure is under control, have it checked at least once every two years after the age of 21. If you have a family history of blood pressure, have it checked more often.

Learn about the risk factors of high blood pressure.

Men and Women: age 50 and older

Colonoscopy: Anyone 50 or older should schedule a screening colonoscopy. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S, yet it’s totally preventable. If your screening is normal, you don’t need another colonoscopy for 10 years. However, if you have a first-degree relative (mother, father or sibling) who has had colon cancer, begin screening at age 40, or 10 years younger than the family member diagnosed, whichever is earlier.

Learn if you are at risk for colon cancer.

Men: Age 50 and older

Prostate Exam: Annually

If you are a man age 50 and older (age 45 for African American males or men with a first degree relative with prostate cancer; age 40 if you have more than one first degree relative), ask your doctor if you should schedule your prostate exam. Roper St. Francis recommends annual prostate screenings, although not all doctors do.

Take this quiz to learn more about prostate health.

Men and Women: 65 and older

Pneumonia vaccination:

Pneumonia is a serious illness that kills thousands of older people each year. Pneumonia vaccines are recommended for all adults ages 65 and older. You should receive a Prevnar 13 at age 65, and then a Pneumovax 6-12 months later. No need to repeat either, though some people will get one dose earlier if they are high risk, e.g. people with immune-compromising conditions such as cancer or people with chronic lung disease such as COPD.

If you have a history of pneumonia or other breathing issues, you may want to get this vaccination earlier. See your doctor so you can develop an individualized plan that is right for you.

How much do you know about pneumonia and the vaccine?

Women: Age 65 and older

Bone Density Test: Every 2 years

To prevent debilitating fractures it’s important to catch and treat osteoporosis early. All women age 65 and older or who are post-menopausal are encouraged to have a routine bone density test every two years. Women of all ages should take calcium as a preventative measure. Any men who use steroids are a greater risk for osteoporosis and should be checked regularly.

Are you at risk of osteoporosis?

Milton Costa, MD

By: Milton Costa, MD, a Roper St. Francis Physician Partner and a family medicine doctor at James Island Medical Care