Common health checks and how often to have them

A list of common health checks and how often you need them.

young nurse giving an older man a health check

When it comes to maintaining your health, it is important to have regular health checks. Health checks are essential to help prevent and diagnose a range of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

Here is a list of common health checks and how often you need them.

Health checks for women:

Breast cancer – Women aged between 50 and 74 are advised to have a breast screen (mammogram) every two years. If you have a family or previous history of breast cancer, your GP will advise you on how regularly to have a screening. Self-checks are necessary. Women of all ages should visit their GP if they notice any changes in breast tissue.

Cervical cancer – It is recommended that women from the age of 18 have a Pap test every two years until the age of 70. If you have a family history of cervical cancer or a previous screening that revealed an abnormality, your GP will advise you whether you will need more regular screenings.

Health checks for men:

Prostate cancer – If you’re over 50, it is recommended you have a prostate exam every two years. If you have a family history of any type of cancer, you may require a regular screening test after the age of 40.

Testicular cancer – According to Cancer Council Australia, there is currently no routine screening test for testicular cancer. There is some doubt whether self-checks serve any benefit but your GP can advise whether a check is required for you.

Checks for men and women:

Eyes – It is recommended that Australians have their eyesight tested every year. From the age of 40, your risk of age-related eye conditions increases. If you have a family history of eye conditions, your optometrist can advise whether your need more regular checks.

Skin – It is advised that Australians should check regularly for skin abnormalities, such as moles and freckles, and notify a doctor if concerned. Men, who are at high risk, such as those who work outdoors, should receive a yearly exam by a doctor or dermatologist.

Teeth – It is recommended that Australians have dental checks at least once per year.

Bowel cancer – Men and women over the age of 50 are recommended to be screened for bowel cancer every one to two years. You may also need a colonoscopy every two to five years. If you have a family historical of bowel cancer or polyps, or have ever experienced bowel cancer symptoms, you may need a bowel screen test every one to two years after the age of 40.

Blood pressure – Those under 40 years without a family history of high blood pressure are advised to have their blood pressure checked every two years after the age of 18. If you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side or you have family history of high blood pressure, you should seek advice from your GP about regularity of screenings.

Osteoporosis – Men and women over 50 years who display risk factors of osteoporosis may require a bone-density scan. Risk factors include a family history, early menopause, low testosterone, thyroid conditions, use of some medicines, thinning body build, spinal deformity or stooped posture, and a previous facture or break (not caused by a fall or major trauma). Once you are over 70 years, your risk increases again.

Type 2 diabetes – Depending on your level of risk, you will need to be tested for type 2 diabetes annually or once every three years. Risk factors include a family history; pre-diabetes or gestational diabetes; aged over 45; bring overweight or obese; polycystic ovarian syndrome; high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; smoking; sedentary lifestyle; history of angina, heart attack or stroke; and particular ethnic backgrounds. Check with your GP if you think you’re at risk.

Find out more from the Better Health Channel and Cancer Council Australia.



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    9th Jun 2016
    Every 12 months or 10,000 km, whichever comes first.
    9th Jun 2016
    I'm sure this is common practice. But if not ...........

    On or near my birthday, I give blood, stool and urine samples. My doctor checks my height and weight (sigh). Every second year Iget a pap smear test there and she sends me off for skin examination. Almost one stop shop medicine. I almost like going to my lovely doctor !
    fish head
    9th Jun 2016
    Type 2 diabetes: latest debacle
    From 1 July 2016 people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin will receive an initial 6 months supply of subsidised blood glucose test strips under NDSS.After 6 months, they will only be eligible for further access to subsidised test strips if their doctor or other authorised health professional considers not clinically necessary to use test strips.

    Like we ENJOY sticking needles into ourselves one/two/three times a day?

    This change follows independent advice of the expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee which recommended restrictions to access to blood glucose test strips based on research including the results of a Post Market Review(???)on products used in the management of diabetes which found there is limited evidence that self-monitoring of blood glucose improves blood glucose control, quality of life or long-term complications in people with type 2 diabetes who are not using insulin.MY FAT AUNT!
    On a personal level it means I have daily access to my sugar levels to adapt my activities AND food intake to juggle aforesaid levels. If they go consistently too high or too low I head to my GP pdq. Without my daily test I will wait in blissful ignorance for my 3 monthly specialist appointment? Can I tell when I am having an episode? Unfortunately not. Some can.What is constantly overlooked with diabetes is the really massive internal damage it does when unchecked.
    This latest bit of bureaucratic fund saving has me alternately furious/ scared silly. It lacks any logic.
    Golden Oldie
    9th Jun 2016
    What about tests on cholesterol levels. Nowhere in this article are they mentioned.
    9th Jun 2016
    I'd add getting your urine tested every year. Bladder cancer is fairly common, especially in smokers, and people don't usually know they've got it. A trace of blood (which you don't notice) on testing is enough to warrant further checks.

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