When to schedule checkups with your doctor
Scheduling routine care is the first step to preventing disease. Follow these guidelines to learn what health professionals recommend:
- The American Cancer Society says women should begin having annual pap smears to test for cervical cancer around 21, or three years after becoming sexually active. Men should get prostate exams starting at age 50, while women should receive mammograms at 40.
- Dr. Robert Hart, medical director with highly rated Ochsner Clinic in Baton Rouge, La., says it's important for men and women to have routine physical exams. The five things your doctor should check: height, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Skin and eye exams should be done every one to two years for healthy adults. If you have diabetes, the No. 1 cause of blindness, Hart recommends getting an eye exam once a year. Those with a family history of skin cancer should see their doctor every 6 months.
- Stay current on immunizations. The Mayo Clinic suggests getting a tetanus shot every 10 years, an annual flu vaccine after age 50 and a pneumonia shot after age 65.
- About 1 in 19 people will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime, so doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy every five to 10 years, starting at age 50.
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