I am approaching a ‘milestone’ birthday. What health checks should I do at my age?


You haven’t had a health check in a while?

You’re not alone. Most people wait until they are sick to see a family doctor, so there is usually not much time left in a consultation to talk about preventive healthcare.

So, should you book a check with your GP just to talk about what you can do to stay healthy? And if so, what should you discuss?

It depends on your stage of life.

Doctors won’t examine you for anything

It may surprise you that it is no proof that a “general health check” leads to better health results.

Have some checkups in low risk patients and otherwise healthy patients no benefit shown, including some blood tests and imaging tests, such as: B. Whole-body CTs or MRIs for cancer screening.

Generic checkups are not only a waste of time and money, they can also lead to another problem: Overdiagnosiswhich leads to additional tests, appointments, anxiety, medication, and even surgery. Ironically, this can make you less healthy.



Read more: Health Check: Should You Have a General Health Check?


That is why doctors do not check you for “everything”, but orientate yourself on what you would personally use based on your individual history and which tests prove the benefit and outweigh the harm.

One of the most important considerations from your doctor will be your age.

Young adults (20-30)

The most important evidence-based screening check for young adults is Cervical screening test for women. This is a five-year swab of the cervix to look for human papillomavirus (HPV) and precancerous cells.

When young women show up for their cervical swab, several other important preventive conversations are often held, including contraception or planning.

Because young men do not need an equivalent screening test, they often miss the opportunity to talk about prevention.

Young men in their twenties and thirties may need to be more proactive when visiting a family doctor.
Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Both men and women in this age group should find a family doctor they are comfortable with when it comes to STIs (sexually transmitted infections), skin cancer, mental struggles and intimate partner violence.

Even otherwise fit and healthy young adults should consider talking to their GP about what they can do to prevent chronic illness. Health behaviors such as diet, sleep, smoking, and physical activity in young adulthood increase or decrease the risk the development of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancer fell by the wayside.

After all, regular checkups by dentists and opticians can identify problems early on.

40–50 years old

Despite the saying, “life begins at 40”, this is the age at which many of the things that can cause early death are worth investigating.

Show current evidence Benefits in assessing your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and your risk for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and skin cancer.

If you are at a higher risk of certain types of cancer (such as breast or colon cancer), early detection can also start at this age.

It’s also not too late to improve your life expectancy with some lifestyle changes, so doing things like losing weight, quitting smoking, and improving your physical activity is important.



Read more: You don’t have to be the biggest loser to succeed at weight loss


As with young adults, women should continue to have a cervical swab every five years.

And everyone should consider getting examined by a dentist and optician.

Mental health can also deteriorate at this age, as the stresses of childcare, aging parents and demanding jobs can escalate. Input from a psychologist can be helpful.

50-65 year olds

Patients often comment on the 50th “birthday present” they find in the mail: a stool sample collection set for colorectal cancer screening. It may not be the highlight of your 50s, but it is Saving lives effectively through early detection of this type of cancer, with checks being recommended every two years.

Women are also invited to begin mammograms Breast cancer screening every two years (unless you started by age 40, depending on your individual risk).

Woman jogs along the beach with her dog.
Women are screened for breast cancer, colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
Shutterstock

The third health problem to start screening for in your 50s is osteoporosis, a condition that makes bones fragile and increases the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is painless and is therefore often discovered too late. You can check your risk for this at home using an online calculator such as: This one here from the Garvan Institute.

Oral and eye exams remain important in this age group too.

Over 65 years

Several vaccinations are available recommended from 65, including shingles and influenza, as your immunity drops and your risk of serious illness increases.



Read more: Vaccination not just for children – a guide for people over 65


Other preventive checks include those for your eyesight, dental health, hearing, and the risk of falling. These are often affiliated healthcare providers who you can examine, monitor, and treat if necessary.

Some of your other regular checkups will stop in your mid-70s, including for colon, cervical, and breast cancers.

First Nations people

The above age-related recommendations apply to people with standard risk factors. First Nations Australians are at higher risk of developing a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and certain types of cancer.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander can be offered more thorough screening, according to a different timeline, with some reviews in previous years.



Read more: Words from Arnhem Land: Aboriginal health messages must be made with us, not for us


Although annual general health checkups are not recommended, speaking with your GP will help determine your specific health risks and screening needs.

Prevention is better than cure. So make sure you access evidence-based screening and prevention strategies that are right for you.


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