You can safeguard and enhance your health, perhaps for many decades, by having certain screening tests a few times in your 20s. The tests are used for early detection of some of the more common and potentially serious diseases occurring in adults, such as sexually transmitted diseases, cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.
Screening tests can find certain conditions in their earliest and most treatable stages, even before you notice symptoms. With information from screening tests, your health care provider can work with you to develop preventive measures that will help you remain healthier in your later years. For example, a routine cholesterol test could reveal your risk of developing heart disease, allowing you to take preventive measures—like lifestyle changes—before you develop a serious condition.
The menu above links you to articles on the laboratory screening tests suggested for young adults, up to 29 years old. The articles summarize the recommendations from various authorities, and there is consensus in many areas, but not all. Therefore, when discussing screening with your health care provider and making decisions about testing, it is important to consider your individual health situation and risk factors.
For more information on preventive medicine and steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy, read Wellness and Prevention in an Era of Patient Responsibility.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Preventive services for healthy living. Reviewed/updated 2/10. Available online at http://familydoctor.org/x1548.xml through http://familydoctor.org. Accessed April 2012.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines: Recs/Schedules/Immunization Schedules main page. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/default.htm through http://www.cdc.gov. Accessed April 2012.
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Physical exam frequency. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002125.htm. Accessed April 2012.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2007. Available online through http://www.ahrq.gov. Accessed 4 Feb 2008.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Summary of recommendations for clinical preventive services (rev 6.4). 15 Aug 2007. Available online through http://www.guideline.gov. Accessed 4 Feb 2008.