Dr. Daveâs Annual Exam Guide

Your health is not just your doctor’s business, it’s yours—because you are your own best advocate. As you meander through a seemingly endless maze of health updates, the information can seem overwhelming—and make a trip to the doc downright intimidating.

That’s where we come in. We’ve pulled together a guide, one to which you can refer as you take control of your health. Your doctor’s recommendations for timing and frequency of visits and tests will always supercede this information, but we hope you’ll use these pages as a general reference, a kind of cheat sheet you can tear out, review and take along with you to the doc.

In Your 20s

Women’s Breast Exam : At least every 3 years. This is a part of your physical exam in the doctor’s office and is not a mammogram.

Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI): At least once a year. Controlling your weight can save your life.

Blood Pressure: At least once a year. With the high rates of hypertension in our community, the traditional recommendation of at least every two years is conservative.

Cholesterol (Fasting Blood Test): Every 3–5 years. If your test results are abnormal, you take cholesterol medication or you have a family history of heart disease, ask your doctor if you should be checked more frequently.

Skin Exam: At least every 3 years. This is a detailed skin exam and, in addition to it, your primary doctor should do a general survey of your skin at each annual visit. Make sure to point out any new, abnormal or unusual moles, tags or other skin problems.

Women’s Pelvic Exam: Every year. This is done by your doctor to examine the external and internal sexual organs. It is completely separate from a Pap smear test.

Women’s Pap Smear Test: Every year, starting at age 21 (or within three years of first sexual encounter), until three satisfactory tests have been completed. A Pap smear helps prevent cervical cancer or catches it early. Tell your doctor if you change sexual partners or have a new partner, which may change your exposure to risk factors. Also, ask your doctor about the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

Men’s Testicular Exam: Every 1–2 years—and get over it! This very brief examination of the structure of the testicles can catch testicular cancer and other problems early. Bring up any concerns at your annual visit.

In Your 30s

Skin Exam: At least every 3 years. This is a detailed skin exam and, in addition to it, your primary doctor should do a general survey of your skin at each annual visit. Make sure to point out any new, abnormal or unusual moles, tags or other skin problems.

Weight and BMI: At least once a year

Blood pressure: At least once a year

Glucose (Fasting Blood Test): Every 2 years. This test checks for signs of diabetes. If your results are abnormal or you have a family history of diabetes, talk to your doctor about how frequently you should have subsequent tests.

Cholesterol (Fasting Blood Test): Every 3–5 years. If your test results are abnormal or you take cholesterol medication or have a family history of heart disease, ask if you should be checked more frequently.

Women’s Pelvic Exam: Every year. This is done by your doctor to examine the external and internal sexual organs. It is completely separate from a Pap smear test.

Women’s Pap Smear Test: Every year. This test helps prevent cervical cancer or it catches it early. Tell your doctor if you change sexual partners or have a new partner, which may change your exposure to risk factors for cervical cancer, mainly human papillomavirus (HPV).

Men’s Testicular Exam: Every 1–2 years.

In Your 40s

Weight and BMI: At least once a year

Blood pressure: At least once a year

Glucose (Fasting Blood Test): Every 2 years to check for signs of diabetes. Talk to your doctor about how frequently you should have subsequent tests.

Cholesterol (Fasting Blood Test): Every 3–5 years. If you have a family history of heart disease, ask your doctor if you should be checked more frequently.

Skin Exam: Every three years. In addition, your primary doctor should do a general survey of your skin at each annual visit. Point out any new, abnormal or unusual moles, tags or other skin problems.

Women’s Pelvic Exam: Every year, to examine the external and internal sexual organs. It is completely separate from a Pap smear test.

Women’s Pap Smear Test: Every year, to help prevent cervical cancer or catch it early. Tell your doctor if you change sexual partners or have a new partner, which may change your exposure to risk factors for cervical cancer, mainly HPV.

Women’s Mammogram: Every 1–2 years, depending on your risk factors for breast cancer. Family history is the most important risk factor.

Men’s Testicular Exam: Every 1–2 years

Men’s Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): Once at age 40 to look for signs of prostate cancer.

In Your 50s