Dr. Daveâs Annual Exam Guide

Dr. Dave’s Annual Exam Guide

You've scheduled your annual physical. But which tests should you insist upon, and when? Our favorite doctor breaks it all down

Dave Montgomery, M.D., Ph.D.

by Dave Montgomery, M.D., Ph.D., May 02, 2012

Dr. Daveâs Annual Exam Guide


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

Weight and BMI: At least once a year

Blood pressure: At least once a year

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

Skin Exam: At least every 3 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 problems.

Fecal Occult Blood Test: Every year. This is a simple test, usually done in the office, that looks for tiny amounts of blood in the stool that may signal early colon cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Test (aka Colonoscopy): Every 5–10 years or earlier for those with clinical indications, family history or abnormal fecal occult blood results.

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone Test: Every 3–5 years, starting at age 65, sooner or more frequently for those who have an abnormal exam or a family history of thyroid disease.

Women’s Pelvic Exam: Every year. It is completely separate from a Pap smear.

Women’s Pap Smear Test: Every year to help prevent cervical cancer or catch it early.

Women’s Mammogram: Every year. Family history is the most important risk factor.

Women’s Bone Mineral Density Test: Once to serve as a baseline after the age of 60 to detect signs of osteoporosis early.

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

Men’s Digital Rectal Exam: Your doctor will determine how often this will be done.

Men’s Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test: Every year. If you have 1 first-degree relative (brother, father) with prostate cancer before age 65, your screening should start at age 45. If you have 2 relatives with it, your screening should start at 40.

Dave Montgomery, M.D., Ph.D., is a board-certified physician and EBONY's Special Contributing Health Editor. You can find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter:@DMontgomeryMD. Send your health questions to drdave@ebony.com

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