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Preventive health screenings

Getting the most out of each day of your life means taking good care of your body, mind and spirit. Routine health screenings and tests can help you find health problems early when they are most treatable.

You and your primary care provider should discuss the right screenings and tests and when you should have them.

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Screening and prevention

Health screenings and tests can help find health problems early when they are most treatable. You can take an active part in your health care by talking with your primary care provider about the screenings and tests you need and when to schedule them. 

Ask your provider when you should get certain screenings and tests. The timing depends on your age, health history and other factors unique to you. You can get many screenings and tests during a yearly physical exam, at a visit with your primary care provider or a well-child exam. Some of your health screenings may require a separate appointment. 

Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to determine what screenings and tests are right for you. Interpreters are available at no cost to you. Please notify the nurse or scheduling staff when making your appointment if you would like to have an interpreter available during your visit.

Types of health screenings and tests

Your health care provider may recommend tests based on your unique health needs, including:

Routine cancer screenings:

Colon and rectal cancer screening: Allina Health recommends 3 types of screenings for colorectal cancer (colon and rectal cancer), precancerous growths (polyps) and other conditions of the large intestine starting at age 45 - colonoscopy, stool tests (FIT) and stool DNA tests.  Talk with your primary care provider if you think you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer and decide which option is right for you.

Breast cancer screening: A Mammogram is a low-dose digital X-ray of your breast. It is the best way to screen for breast cancer in women. Women ages 40 and older should consider having a mammogram yearly. Women 25 and older who are at a higher risk should also consider routine mammograms. Talk with your primary care provider if you think you are at an increased risk for breast cancer.

Skin cancer screening: Your primary care provider or dermatologist can perform regular skin exams to check for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. If you find an abnormal-looking mole or any changes in your skin, call your primary care provider.

Cervical cancer screening: Women should have a Pap test every three years or an HPV test every five years starting at age 21.

Lung cancer screening: Lung cancer screenings are recommended for people ages 50 to 80 who currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years or have a history of heavy smoking.

Prostate cancer screening: Regular prostate exams are recommended for men 55 and older. Men 55 and older are recommended to have routine prostate cancer screenings.


Other health screenings and tests:

  • blood pressure check
  • cholesterol test
  • Depression screening
  • Diabetes screening
  • Osteoporosis test
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening

What should I expect during a preventive screening?

Your health care provider will ask you about your current and past health issues, family history and current medications. He or she may perform a physical exam when necessary.

Insurance and price

Most health insurance plans cover preventive health screenings. Choose preventive care services from health care providers in your plan’s network whenever possible.

Medicare wellness screenings cover two types of physical exams – one when you're new to Medicare and one each year.

Contact your insurance provider about medical coverage and get a price estimate before scheduling preventive screenings.

Reducing your risk

There are many ways to reduce your risk for health problems and live a healthy lifestyle. Talk with your primary care provider to learn more and get information on:

  • nutrition
  • physical activity
  • sun safety
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • quitting tobacco
  • coping skills and stress reduction
  • postmenopausal hormone replacement.

Source: National Institutes of Health
Reviewed by: Scott Kammer, MD

First published: 3/7/2017
Last reviewed: 8/19/2021