Health Screenings by Decade: Everything You Need to Know

Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP
February 25, 2022
5 mins

When it comes to your health, it’s never too early (or too late) to be proactive. Which means now is a great time to learn about the preventive measures you can take to support your overall health. So we’re taking a look at health screenings by decade, so you can stay on top of your health — at any age. 

Your 20s

For most people, preventive care in your 20s will focus on identifying and addressing your unique risk factors (based on your background and lifestyle), as well as sexual and reproductive health.

This is a great time to learn about your family’s health history and make note of any conditions that may have a hereditary component or risk factor, such as:

     • Cancer

     • Diabetes

     • High blood pressure (hypertension)

     • High cholesterol

     • Heart disease

     • Stroke 

It’s also a good time to take charge of your own health by establishing care with a primary care provider and scheduling a routine physical. During this visit, your healthcare provider will help you get a picture of your current overall health, by:

     • Checking your blood pressure

     • Ordering a blood panel 

     • Performing a basic lung and heart exam with a stethoscope

Depending on your body, your provider may recommend: 

     • A breast exam

     • A prostate exam

     • A pelvic exam and Pap smear

     • An HPV test

You can bring up any concerns about your family history during your yearly exam. This will help your provider craft a care plan that is best for your individual needs.

(Learn more — read “Why You Need a Primary Care Provider in Your 20s.”)

Your 20s are also a time to be proactive about your sexual and reproductive health. 

It is recommended that people with a cervix in their 20s have a Pap smear every three years to check for cervical cancer. 

And last but not least, it’s a great idea to make a habit of visiting your dentist regularly. Even if you practice good oral hygiene, your dentist will perform a yearly oral cancer screening. 

Your 30s

Your 30s are a crucial period in terms of prevention. It’s important to make your health a priority by establishing regular health screenings (if you haven’t already).

These can include:

     • Annual physical exam

     • Breast exam 

     • Diabetes screening

     • Pelvic exam

People with a cervix who are 30 years old or older should have a combined Pap smear and HPV test every five years, according to current guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

It’s also recommended that adults who are overweight or obese start screening for type 2 diabetes in their mid 30s and repeat the test every three years if the results are normal. 

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Your 40s

Your 40s are a time of monitoring, when you’ll start looking more closely at your cardiovascular health and begin additional cancer screenings. 

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start getting familiar with your numbers — including blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). You should start having these numbers monitored regularly, usually during your yearly physical. Work with your doctor to monitor any changes from year to year for your heart health. If you haven’t started diabetes screening in your 30s, your provider may choose to begin now. 

Depending on your body, your provider will likely recommend starting annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer. 

Additionally, It is recommended that everyone begin colon cancer screenings starting at age 45. The most common screening test is a colonoscopy; however, there are other options that your provider may recommend. 

And although it’s always good to scan over your own body, this is the age you want to be sure to ask your primary care provider (or dermatologist) to perform annual screenings for skin cancer. 

Your 50s

Your 50s are when the frequency of cancer screenings increases (for most people). If you were already doing so, you should continue to get yearly mammograms, dropping back to every other year starting (typically) at age 55. 

Additionally, people with certain risk factors may also benefit from lung cancer screenings starting at age 50.

Your 60s and Beyond

In your 60s, you will see how taking care of your health can pay off. During this time, you’ll keep up with the screenings you’ve already been receiving regularly, including those for heart disease, cancer, vision, and dental screenings. People with vaginas who have consistently had normal results from their Pap tests can stop getting them at age 65. 

It’s also important to stay on top of your yearly physicals. As we age, it’s common for blood, pressure, cholesterol levels, and other heart-related numbers to rise. Keep track of these numbers as they are checked and be sure to let your provider know of any changes that come up (if they aren’t already aware). 

You may also want to talk to your provider about adding bone density tests to look for osteoporosis. 

(Learn more — read “8 Tips for Healthy Aging and Living Well Later in Life.”)

And remember, you don't need to wait until you’re having problems to speak to our providers. At Carbon Health, we’re here to partner with you, whether you're experiencing uncomfortable symptoms or you simply want to create a plan for better health. Visit or download the Carbon Health app today.

Carbon Health’s medical content is reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals before it is published, but it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, and before making changes to your healthcare routine.

Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP

As Carbon Health’s Chief Innovation Officer, Caesar Djavaherian, MD, MS, FACEP, guides clinical innovation through product development, service expansion, and partnerships with transformative companies working to improve the healthcare ecosystem. He is an emergency medicine physician, a former high school teacher, and a reformed academic researcher. Caesar co-founded Direct Urgent Care to deliver technology-enabled urgent care throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He has practiced at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the University Hospital of Columbia, and Weill Cornell Medicine. In his spare time, Caesar advises healthcare startups, cheers on the Warriors, tries various HIIT workouts, and daydreams about what the future of health will look like.