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5 must-have medical tests

The test you don’t need

Yes, cancer screenings save lives. But don’t bother getting tested for ovarian cancer, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, as there’s no evidence that screening tests like CA-125 or pelvic exams reduce your mortality from the disease since half of all ovarian cancers are found in women who are older than 63. The group adds that since ovarian cancer isn’t common, the risks outweigh the benefits of screening.

After you hit menopause, you’ll experience changes in your bones, skin and hair. And your risk for conditions like heart disease also rises. Stay on top of your health by getting screened regularly for the following conditions:

  1. Breast cancer. Early detection is key. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a mammogram once a year beginning at age 40. Discuss your risks and how often you should be screened with your healthcare provider.
  2. Osteoporosis. You don’t need an osteoporosis screening immediately after menopause; it’s recommended for women ages 65 and older or women ages 60 and older who are at increased risk for fractures. A bone mineral density test uses a low-dose X-ray that can determine how much calcium and other minerals are in your bones. This helps predict whether you’re likely to break bones in the future and is the basis for a plan to combat it.
  3. Colorectal cancer. Once you turn 50, schedule regular screenings for colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor about one of these tests: a fecal occult blood test (every year), a barium enema (every five years), a sigmoidoscopy (every five years), a virtual colonoscopy (every five years) or a colonoscopy (every 10 years).
  4. Blood pressure and cholesterol. See your provider regularly for these important screening tests that help determine your risk of developing heart disease. When you turn 45, have your cholesterol checked every five years and get your blood pressure tested every two years, or every year if you have high blood pressure.
  5. Depression. At age 50, screening for clinical depression may be helpful if you’re feeling down. You may brush off some of the classic symptoms of depression, like difficulty sleeping and a change in eating habits. But screenings can diagnose you early and give you the tools to deal with the sadness.

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