Health checks you should have: a checklist

Health screening is an important part of disease prevention. Screening involves testing or checking for conditions in their early stages, before symptoms have developed, to help improve outcomes.

Screening may involve:

  • tests, such as cervical cancer screening tests;
  • examinations, such as skin checks; or
  • advice on self-checks, such as breast or testicular self-examination.

The recommendations below generally refer to screening for the general population. The recommendations may be different for people with specific risk factors for a particular disease. Talk to your GP (general practitioner) about health checks that you should have and when to have them. Preventive healthcare is one of the key roles of your GP, so they will be only too happy to help you.

MEN

Health checks men should have
Disease or conditionWho should be tested or examined?Test or examinationFrequencyGuideline
Bowel cancer (colorectal cancer)People aged 50-74 years (those at increased risk should start screening earlier – talk to your doctor)Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), also known as FIT (faecal immunochemical test)Every 2 years (may be different for people at increased risk – ask your doctor)RACGP 2016; Cancer Council Australia 2017
Certain people at increased risk of bowel cancerColonoscopyDepends on the riskRACGP 2016; Cancer Council Australia 2017
High blood pressurePeople aged 18 years and olderBlood pressure measurementAt least every 2 yearsRACGP 2016
High cholesterolPeople aged 45 years and older; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 35 years and olderCholesterol and triglyceride blood testsEvery 5 yearsNational Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance 2012; RACGP 2016
Cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and strokeRisk assessment should be done in people from the age of 45 years (35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults)Risk assessment includes tests such as: cholesterol blood test, urine protein and albumin test, electrocardiogram (ECG), waist circumference and BMI measurementsDepends on initial risk assessment
Low risk: every 2 years
Moderate risk: every 6-12 months
High risk: regular review as advised by your doctor
National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance 2012
Dental healthPeople of all agesCheck-up with dentist or oral check (examination of the mouth, teeth and lips) with GPIn general, oral checks at least once a year. People at increased risk should have more frequent check-ups with a doctor or dentistRACGP 2016 
Diabetes: type 2People aged 40 years and older and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 and overAustralian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (questionnaire given by your doctor)Every 3 yearsDiabetes Australia 2016-17; NHMRC 2009; RACGP 2016
People at high risk of type 2 diabetesFasting blood sugar (glucose) test or HbA1c test (glycated haemoglobin blood test)Every 1 to 3 years (depending on risk)Diabetes Australia 2016-17; NHMRC 2009; RACGP 2016
GlaucomaPeople at increased risk of glaucoma, including Caucasian and Asian people older than 50 years; people of African descent older than 40 years; and people with a first-degree relative with glaucoma (eye checks should start 10-15 years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed).Eye health check by optometrist or ophthalmologistRegular eye checks should be done after the first examination - your doctor will tell you how often you need to have eye checks.NHMRC 2010; RACGP 2016
Hearing impairmentPeople aged 65 years and olderHearing assessmentEvery 12 monthsRACGP 2016
Kidney diseasePeople at high risk, including those who: smoke; are obese; have a family history of kidney failure; have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease; have had a kidney problem in the past; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples older than 30 years.Kidney Health Check: blood pressure check; urine test to detect a protein called albumin; and a blood test to estimate kidney function (estimated glomerular filtration rate - eGFR)Every 1-2 yearsRACGP 2016; Kidney Health Australia 2015
OsteoporosisMen older than 50 years with no history of fractures but who have certain risk factors for osteoporosis, such as: family history of osteoporosis; smoking; recurrent falls; drinking more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day;
vitamin D deficiency; low BMI; and low levels of physical activity.
Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan to measure bone densityDepends on initial scan resultsRACGP 2016; Osteoporosis Australia 2017
OverweightAdults aged 18 years and overBMI and waist circumference measurementEvery 2 years for those at average risk. Every year for those at increased riskRACGP 2016
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)All sexually active people under the age of 30 yearsChlamydia testing (urine or swab test)
Recommended testing frequency depends on level of risk
RACGP 2016
People at high risk of STIs (risk factors include age, sexual habits and local community infection rates)Chlamydia testing and possibly testing for gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitisDepends on level of riskRACGP 2016
Skin cancer - melanomaPeople at average or increased riskSkin examination by your doctor or dermatologistNo set scheduleRACGP 2016
People at high risk of melanoma (people with a history of melanoma and those with more than 5 moles with an unusual appearance)Skin examination by your doctor or dermatologist PLUS self-examinations of skinSkin self-examinations every 3 months
Full body skin examinations by your doctor are recommended every 6-12 months
RACGP 2016
Testicular cancerAll menCancer Council Australia recommends that all men become familiar with the usual feel of their testicles and to see their doctor if they notice a change, lump or swelling Cancer Council Australia 2015
Men with a family history of testicular cancer (father or brother) or a personal history of undescended testiclesTesticular examinationNo set intervalCancer Council Australia 2015
Tests which are controversial or not recommended in the general well population
Prostate cancer

Routine population-based screening of all men with PSA tests is not currently recommended.

Men should discuss the risks and benefits of PSA testing with their doctor before deciding whether they should have this test. Men at average risk of prostate cancer who decide to have PSA screening tests can be offered testing from age 50 to 69.
For men older than 70, the harms of PSA screening tests may outweigh the benefits.

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood testMen at average risk of prostate cancer who decide to have PSA screening should be offered testing every 2 yearsCancer Council Australia 2015; RACGP 2016
Men with a family history of prostate cancer who decide to have PSA screening tests should be offered testing from 40-45 years (depending on how many close family members have been diagnosed with prostate cancer) until age 69 years.Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood testMen with a family history of prostate cancer can be offered PSA testing every 2 yearsCancer Council Australia 2015; RACGP 2016
BMI = Body Mass Index
NHMRC = National Health & Medical Research Council, Australia
RACGP = Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

WOMEN

Health checks women should have
Disease or conditionWho should be tested or examined?Test or examinationFrequencyGuideline
Bowel cancer (colorectal cancer)People aged 50-74 years (those at increased risk should start screening earlier – talk to your doctor)Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), also known as FIT (faecal immunochemical test)Every 2 years (may be different for people at increased risk – ask your doctor)RACGP 2016; Cancer Council Australia 2017
Certain people at increased risk of bowel cancerColonoscopyDepends on the riskRACGP 2016; Cancer Council Australia 2017
Breast cancerFor women of any age at average risk of breast cancer, Cancer Council Australia recommends breast awareness.Breast Awareness – being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts. See your doctor if you notice any changes. Ongoing self-assessmentsCancer Council Australia 2016
Women aged 50 to 74 years (available free of charge through BreastScreen Australia).
Women aged 40-49 also have free access to BreastScreen should they choose to have a mammogram. Women over 74 years may continue to have free mammograms but should discuss this with their doctor.
MammogramEvery 2 yearsCancer Council Australia 2016; BreastScreen Australia 2018
Women who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer and those who have had breast cancer should check with their doctor about screening.  BreastScreen Australia 2015
Cervical cancerAll women between the ages of 25 (or 2 years after the first time of having sex, whichever is later) and 74 years should have cervical cancer screening testsHuman papillomavirus (HPV) testsEvery 5 years. Women at increased risk of cervical cancer may need more frequent testingDepartment of Health 2017; Cancer Council Australia 2017
High blood pressurePeople aged 18 years and olderBlood pressure measurementAt least every 2 yearsRACGP 2016
High cholesterolPeople aged 45 years and older; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 35 years and olderCholesterol and triglyceride blood testsEvery 5 yearsNational Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance 2012; RACGP 2016
Cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and strokeRisk assessment should be done in people from the age of 45 years (35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults)Risk assessment includes tests such as: cholesterol blood test, urine protein and albumin test, electrocardiogram (ECG), waist circumference and BMI measurementsDepends on initial risk assessment
Low risk: every 2 years
Moderate risk: every 6-12 months
High risk: regular review as advised by your doctor
National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance 2012
Dental healthPeople of all agesCheck-up with dentist or oral check (examination of the mouth, teeth and lips) with GPIn general, oral checks at least once a year. People at increased risk should have more frequent check-ups with a doctor or dentistRACGP 2016 
Diabetes: type 2People aged 40 years and older and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 and overAustralian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (questionnaire given by your doctor)Every 3 yearsDiabetes Australia 2016-17; NHMRC 2009; RACGP 2016
People at high risk of type 2 diabetesFasting blood sugar (glucose) test or HbA1c test (glycated haemoglobin blood test)Every 1 to 3 years (depending on risk)Diabetes Australia 2016-17; NHMRC 2009; RACGP 2016
GlaucomaPeople at increased risk of glaucoma, including Caucasian and Asian people older than 50 years; people of African descent older than 40 years; and people with a first-degree relative with glaucoma (eye checks should start 10-15 years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed).Eye health check by optometrist or ophthalmologistRegular eye checks should be done after the first examination - your doctor will tell you how often you need to have eye checks.NHMRC 2010; RACGP 2016
Hearing impairmentPeople aged 65 years and olderHearing assessmentEvery 12 monthsRACGP 2016
Kidney diseasePeople at high risk, including those who: smoke; are obese; have a family history of kidney failure; have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart or blood vessel disease; have had a kidney problem in the past; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples older than 30 years.Kidney Health Check: blood pressure check; urine test to detect a protein called albumin; and a blood test to estimate kidney function (estimated glomerular filtration rate - eGFR)Every 1-2 yearsRACGP 2016; Kidney Health Australia 2015
OsteoporosisPostmenopausal women with no history of fractures but who have certain risk factors for osteoporosis, such as: family history of osteoporosis; smoking; recurrent falls; drinking more than 2 standard drinks of alcohol per day;
vitamin D deficiency; low BMI; and low levels of physical activity.
Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan to measure bone densityDepends on initial scan resultsRACGP 2016; Osteoporosis Australia 2017
OverweightAdults aged 18 and overBMI and waist circumference measurementEvery 2 years for those at average risk. Every year for those at increased riskRACGP 2016
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)All sexually active people under the age of 30 yearsChlamydia testing (urine or swab test)
Recommended testing frequency depends on level of risk
RACGP 2016
People at high risk of STIs (risk factors include age, sexual habits and local community infection rates)Chlamydia testing and possibly testing for gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, hepatitisDepends on level of riskRACGP 2016
Skin cancer - melanomaPeople at average or increased riskSkin examination by your doctor or dermatologistNo set scheduleRACGP 2016
People at high risk of melanoma (people with a history of melanoma and those with more than 5 moles with an unusual appearance)Skin examination by your doctor or dermatologist PLUS self-examinations of skinSkin self-examinations every 3 months. Full body skin examinations by your doctor are recommended every 6-12 monthsRACGP 2016
BMI = Body Mass Index
NHMRC = National Health & Medical Research Council, Australia
RACGP = Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Last Reviewed: 19 June 2018
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References

1. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). Clinical guidelines. Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice; 9th ed. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2016. https://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/redbook/ (accessed Jun 2018).
2. Cancer Council Australia Colorectal Cancer Guidelines Working Party. 2017 Clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, early detection and management of colorectal cancer. Sydney: Cancer Council Australia. https://wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines:Colorectal_cancer (accessed Jun 2018). Approved by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Oct 2017.
3. National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance. Guidelines for the management of absolute cardiovascular disease risk; 2012. http://www.cvdcheck.org.au/pdf/Absolute_CVD_Risk_Full_Guidelines.pdf (accessed Jun 2018).
4. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; Diabetes Australia. General practice management of type 2 diabetes: 2016–18. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2016. https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/5d3298b2-abf3-487e-9d5e-0558566fc242.pdf (accessed Jun 2018).
5. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC). NHMRC guidelines for the screening, prognosis, diagnosis, management and prevention of glaucoma 2010. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/cp113_glaucoma_120404.pdf (accessed Jun 2018).
6. Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Cancer Council Australia. Clinical Practice Guidelines on PSA Testing (approved 2 Nov 2015). http://www.prostate.org.au/awareness/for-healthcare-professionals/clinical-practice-guidelines-on-psa-testing/ (accessed Jun 2017).
7. PSA testing and early management of test-detected prostate cancer. Sydney: Cancer Council Australia. http://wiki.cancer.org.au/australiawiki/index.php?oldid=134877 (accessed Jun 2018).
8. Cancer Council Australia. Breast cancer screening (updated 31 Oct 2016). https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/early-detection/screening-programs/breast-cancer-screening.html (accessed Jun 2018).
9. Australian Government Department of Health. National cervical screening program.
http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/cervical-screening-1 (accessed Jun 2017).
10. Cancer Council Australia. Position statement - Testicular cancer (reviewed AprFeb 20153). https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Position_statement_-_Testicular_cancer#_ga=2.34842726.690961014.1528849942-75848771.1527489614 (accessed Jun 2018).
11. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Management in General Practice (3rd edition). Kidney Health Australia, Melbourne, 2015. http://kidney.org.au/health-professionals/prevent/chronic-kidney-disease-management-handbook (accessed Jun 2018).
12. Cancer Council Australia. National cervical screening program: Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding (Jun 2016).
https://wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines:Cervical_cancer/Screening (accessed Jun 2018).
13. Australian Government Department of Health. BreastScreen Australia. Policy (updated 24 May 2018). http://cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/policy (accessed Jun 2018).
14. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; Osteoporosis Australia. Osteoporosis risk assessment, diagnosis and management (Nov 2017). https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/RACGP%20Osteoporosis%20Summary%20Guideline%204428%20Nov%202017.pdf (accessed Jun 2018).
15. Australasian Sexual Health Alliance (ASHA). Australian STI management guidelines for use in primary care. http://www.sti.guidelines.org.au/standard-asymptomatic-check-up (accessed Jun 2018).
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