As you head into your senior years, the healthy habits you started in your 20s and 30s and continued through your 40s form a solid foundation for an active, healthy life. These habits include regular physicals, screenings, and tests.
Don’t stop now. Talk to your primary care doctor at your next annual physical to determine if your health history has any red flags you need to address. Your good health could depend on it.
Here’s a look at the screenings you should have in your 50s and 60s.
Screenings everyone should have
If you are a former or current smoker, you are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that you have annual lung cancer screening using a low-dose CT scan if you:
- Are between the ages of 55 and 74
- Currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years
- Have at least a 30-pack year history. A pack year means you smoked one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, etc.
You can stop having yearly lung cancer screenings if you:
- Have not smoked for 15 years
- Develop a health problem that makes you unwilling or unable to treat lung cancer
Millions of Americans have hepatitis C, and many don't know they’re infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which recommends everyone born between 1945 and 1965 be screened.
- Hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver cancer and liver transplants.
- Early treatment can often prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and cancer.
- If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, the CDC recommends you receive alcohol screening and counseling as part of your treatment.
Screening for colorectal cancer comes in two forms: stool-based tests and visual examination with sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. The regular screenings you started in your 40s should continue.
- If you are 50 through 75, you should have regular screenings that include a colonoscopy every 10 years or flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.
- If you're 76 through 85, talk to your doctor about the best screening schedule for you.
- If you’re over 85, you don’t need to continue testing.
Screenings for women
A fractured hip brings many unwelcome additions to your daily life, like pain, reduced mobility, and loss of independence. Bone density screenings detect osteoporosis, so you can start treatment, protect your bones, and improve your quality of life.
- If you are 65, you should have bone measurement testing to prevent osteoporosis-related bone fractures.
- If you are at higher risk for osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about starting testing when you are younger than 65.
- There does not appear to be any substantial health benefits if you repeat your bone density testing after your initial screening.
Regular screening for cervical cancer should include a Pap test combined with a test for human papillomavirus (HPV).
- If you’re between 50 and 65, you should continue testing every five years as long as your test results remain normal.
- If you're over 65 and have had regular screenings for the past 10 years with normal results, you should stop testing for cervical cancer.
- If you are at a high risk of cervical cancer, you should talk to your OBGYN about the best screening schedule to meet your health needs.
A mammogram is one of the most effective strategies for preventing breast cancer in its early stages. As you age, the guidelines change on how often you need testing.
- If you are under 54, you should get a mammogram every year.
- If you are 55 to 74, you can switch to a mammogram every two years
- Screening should continue as long as you are in good health and expected to live at least 10 years.
It’s safe to get care
Don’t put off the screenings and medical tests you need because you’re worried about the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are committed to your health, and we’re taking every precaution to keep you protected. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub for details on all the ways we’re working to keep you safe so you can be confident in getting the care you need.
Are you looking for a primary care physician to help manage your care and address any issues that arise over the years? Visit our online physician directory to find a primary care doctor and schedule an appointment today. Now is the time to start building your personal healthcare team.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations
- Osteoporosis to Prevent Fractures: Screening
- USPSTF Recommendation: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
- American Cancer Society Guideline for Colorectal Cancer Screening
- Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests
- National Institutes of Health: Health screenings for women ages 40 to 64
- National Institutes of Health: Health screenings for men ages 40 to 64
- American Heart Association Heart Health Screenings
- American Cancer Society Screening Guidelines
- American Academy of Ophthalmology Eye Disease Screening Guidelines
- National Institutes of Health: Cholesterol testing and results
- American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
- CDC Recommendations for Hepatitis C Screening Among Adults in the United States
- American Cancer Society Recommendations for Prostate Cancer Early Detection