Thursday, Jun. 11, 2009

At the Doctor's Office

Your list of recommended medical tests is about to get longer: the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says men should get their cholesterol checked regularly after age 35 — women, after 45 — and talk to the doctor about lipid-lowering medication if necessary. At age 40, women should begin getting mammograms every one to two years. (Women with a family history or other breast-cancer risk factors may start earlier.) The American Cancer Society advises doctors to discuss prostate-cancer screening — although its utility is still being debated by medical experts — with patients at age 50, or younger if they are at high risk for the disease. At 50, men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer. "There's a real need to keep up with vaccinations," says Dr. Jonathan Samet, chair of the department of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. That includes tetanus, diphtheria, measles and mumps; the flu vaccine, advisable at all ages, should become a regular part of your preventive routine at 50, according to the CDC.