Do You Need an Annual Checkup?
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Do You Need an Annual Checkup?

Consider a surprising fact before you get on the phone to schedule your yearly physical: Many medical organizations don’t find this popular practice medically necessary. Instead, they emphasize preventive care.

Benefits of an Annual Exam

Still, the CDC argues that a yearly checkup can help find problems before they start. And some experts feel that annual visits help cement the doctor-patient relationship. These exams may also encourage valuable preventive measures, such as cholesterol screenings and mammographies.

Talk with Your Doctor

You and your doctor can decide whether you need an annual physical. In the meantime, be sure to put these screenings and preventive measures on your calendar:

  • Mammography. The American Cancer Society recommends that women should get a mammography every year starting at age 45. Women ages 55 and older have the option of getting a mammogram every two years, or continuing with the annual screenings.

  • Pap test. The United States Preventive Services Task Force suggests that women ages 21 to 65 should get a Pap test once every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 years can choose to instead have a Pap test once every five years along with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test. Women over 65 who have had normal screenings and do not have a high risk for cervical cancer do not need Pap tests. Talk with your doctor about the schedule that is best for you.

  • Cholesterol. Have your cholesterol checked every four to six years after you turn age 20.

  • Diabetes. Get tested for diabetes if you are overweight or obese and between the ages of 40 and 70.

  • Osteoporosis. Women ages 65 and older, and younger women at high risk, should be screened for osteoporosis.

  • Colorectal cancer screening. Start periodic testing for this disease at age 50, or earlier if the disease runs in your family.


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