Get your preventive screenings

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The start of a new year is the perfect time to speak with your doctor about preventive screenings. The importance of preventive screenings for adults, especially those who are 65 and older, are critical. They can detect early-stage chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and hypertension, which are more treatable when caught early.1

Commonly recommended preventive screenings

Routine annual checkups 

Annual checkups give you the chance to speak with your doctor about your preventive care needs for the new year. You should be prepared to discuss the following with your doctor during an annual checkup:2

  • Family medical history of chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes 
  • Key dates of recommended screenings and vaccinations such as prostate and colon cancer screenings, Pap tests and mammograms 
  • Recent health concerns such as sudden weight loss, issues with urine or stool and body or skin changes 
  • Future health and wellness goals, all current prescription medications and over-the-counter medications 

During an annual checkup, your doctor may conduct a general health exam to assess your heart rate, blood pressure and other biometrics. Usually, your doctor will ask about your family medical history and lifestyle, screen for cognitive impairments, and discuss your current medications and risk factors. Your doctor may also create an immunization and screening schedule for the next 5–10 years.

Osteoporosis bone mineral density test 

Osteoporosis is a severe weakening of the bones that can cause breaks, fractures and other painful problems. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but women 65 and older have an increased risk.3 Based on factors like height loss, dropping hormone levels or a recent fracture, your doctor may recommend a bone density test. This test uses X-rays to measure the density of calcium and other important minerals in your bones.4 Depending on the results, your doctor may recommend ways to strengthen your bones or additional tests to find and treat underlying problems. 

Breast cancer screening 

Early detection is critical to improving outcomes for patients who develop breast cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women 50 to 74 years of age get a mammogram every 2 years. Women 40 to 49 should ask their doctor if they should start getting regular mammograms.5 Your doctor can also show you how to do breast self-exams to help with the early detection of lumps, swelling and other changes. 

Most health insurance plans are required to cover regular mammograms for women 40 and older with no out-of-pocket cost. The CDC also offers free or low-cost mammograms for those who qualify.6

Colon cancer screening 

If you’re 50 to 75 years old, your doctor may set up a testing schedule for colon cancer. (Screenings are sometimes recommended earlier depending on risk factors.) These screenings look for precancerous polyps to remove before they turn into cancer.7 Many doctors will recommend a yearly fecal occult blood test, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years.7

Diabetes screening 

The USPSTF recommends adults 40 to 70 years of age who are overweight or obese get screened every 3 years for abnormal blood glucose and type 2 diabetes (an update on this standard is forthcoming from the USPSTF).8For those living with diabetes, several yearly tests and exams are recommended. The A1c blood test measures blood sugar levels for the past 3 months to make sure you’re in a healthy range. Comprehensive eye exams screen for diabetes-related eye disorders such as retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.9 Foot exams check for redness, cracks, sores, wounds and nerve damage.10

Other exams and tests 

Depending on your age and risk factors, your doctor may recommend other exams and tests. A cholesterol/lipid screening is recommended every 5 years, though you may need a yearly test if you have cardiovascular problems or diabetes. Eye exams for glaucoma and macular degeneration should be administered every 2 to 4 years until age 64, and then every 1 or 2 years after that. The USPSTF recommends that men 55 to 69 talk to their doctors about the necessity of prostate cancer screenings.11

If you’re a Humana member, sign in to MyHumana and go to “MyHealth” to learn more about your recommended preventive screenings and how to get the most from your Humana benefits. 

This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you. 


Sources:

  1. “How you can prevent chronic diseases” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/prevent/index.htm
  2. “How often should you see your doctor for a check-Up,” Healthline, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-often-should-you-get-routine-checkups-at-the-doctor 
  3. “Osteoporosis,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed January 6, 2021, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968.  
  4. “Bone Density Test,” Johns Hopkins Medicine, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/bone-density-test
  5. “What are the USPSTF breast cancer screening guidelines,” Medscape, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.medscape.com/answers/781116-100401/what-are-the-uspstf-breast-cancer-screening-guidelines
  6. “What Is Breast Cancer Screening,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm.  
  7. “Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/screening/tests.htm 
  8. “Final Recommendation Statement,” U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/screening-for-prediabetes-and-type-2-diabetes.  
  9. “Can Diabetes Affect Your Eyes,” WebMD, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/diabetes-eye-problems
  10. “Why do People with Diabetes Need Foot Exams,” Healthline, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetic-foot-exam#importance
  11. “Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/get-screened.htm/.