As you reach your 40s, you enter a new season of life, with new things to enjoy as well as new considerations for your health. It’s an important time to pay attention to your health and seek preventative care to ensure longevity for years to come. Continuing your positive preventative care habits from your 20s and 30s starts with an annual visit to your healthcare provider. Beyond that, here are a few exams and screenings that should be added to your visits when you’re in your 40s.
During your annual wellness visit, talk with your provider about whether a physical breast exam is a good idea for you, given your risk factors and age. This exam helps screen for lumps and bumps that may require a biopsy, and it can help detect cancerous growths early when there are plenty of treatment options.
Annually beginning in your 40s, your provider may recommend mammograms in conjunction with physical breast exams. Mammograms use low levels of x-rays to screen your breasts for signs of cancer, and they have been shown to greatly decrease the number of women 40 and up who lose their lives to breast cancer.
If you’re at high risk of prostate cancer—which you can discuss with your healthcare provider at your annual visit—your provider may suggest a yearly prostate cancer screening. This is a blood test that measures a prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a substance that your prostate produces, and elevated levels could indicate prostate cancer or other conditions that impact the prostate. So monitoring this if you’re at increased risk can help you identify potential problems early.
Each year, beginning when you enter your 40s, your provider may perform a prostate digital rectal exam with your healthcare provider. This simple procedure involves your medical provider inserting a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate for lumpy, hard, or unusual areas. This procedure is typically only mildly uncomfortable at the most, and lasts only a few moments. But the information it can provide in your preventative care is invaluable.
Annual appointments with your provider will help determine your risk level for colon cancer. If you are at high risk, you may want to incorporate a colon cancer screening into your annual routine starting at 45 years of age. Factors like personal and family history with bowel disease will impact your risk level, making each person different, so it’s important to discuss your unique situation with your healthcare provider. Depending on your risk factors and your doctor’s recommendation, screening may include stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). They can help you determine which tests are right for you and your personal situation.
Every three years beginning after your 45th birthday, your provider will likely recommend a prediabetes screening. There are several simple blood tests that look at blood glucose levels, such as A1C, fasting plasma glucose, or a glucose tolerance test. Your healthcare provider can help you determine what screening procedures will be right for you and your body.
Preventative care doesn’t have to be complicated—it’s as simple as finding a healthcare provider you can trust. The staff at CHP are here to help; contact your nearest clinic to get answers to your questions and schedule your annual visit.
For more information about the preventative care you should be doing at every stage of life, download our Preventative Care Checklist.