10 minute read

A guide to health testing and screenings for adults 55+

Published April 10, 2024

Life experience can feel too big for words. Descriptions like “adult,” “midlife,” or “senior citizen” can feel like they belong to another chapter in life – one that doesn’t quite capture your story. Because you feel you’re somewhere more interesting. You've navigated life's adventures, held on tight, and gained a vibrant mix of experience, wisdom, and resilience. You’re a seasoned pro – a seasoned citizen – someone who’s lived (and thrived).

As you continue to thrive through the decades, preventive screenings and tests become even more crucial. This guide offers a list of certain screenings and tests that might be worth considering if you’re a seasoned pro, over the age of 55. Consider it a good starting point, but not the complete picture: the recommendations for health testing can change over time as new research becomes available. They might also be different for you depending on your health risks. The best way to determine the right tests for you is to talk with your doctor. 

Accessible & hassle-free health testing 

Get the tests you need (when and how you need them) with questhealth.com. Take charge of your 55+ health journey with:

Why is health testing important?

Routine health testing is important because it can help:

  • Keep you healthy
  • Prevent diseases
  • Detect diseases early, when treatment may be most effective

Regular health screenings are important for everyone, but the recommended tests can vary based on your age, health history, and lifestyle. 

Get the right tests at the right time. Talk with your doctor to help create a plan that supports your body's ongoing journey.

Who makes health testing recommendations?

Do you ever wonder what health screenings you need? You’re not alone! Thankfully, there are organizations dedicated to providing recommendations, including:

  • The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of volunteer experts that make recommendations about preventive services. The USPSTF's recommendations are based on a careful review of the scientific evidence
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a professional organization for family physicians that make recommendations based on the best available evidence
  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional organization for obstetricians and gynecologists (OB-GYNs). ACOG is dedicated to the health of women and promotes excellence in women's healthcare
  • The American Heart Association (AHA), the largest and oldest nonprofit organization focused on heart health and stroke prevention, is dedicated to saving and improving lives

Health tests to consider every year (or as often as necessary)

Comprehensive health profiles

Quest’s comprehensive health profiles are tests that go beyond the basics. They are designed to give you a better idea of your overall health. They include tests for heart health, kidney health, liver health, bone health, diabetes risk, vitamin D, and other health factors. You'll also receive a biometric screening (physical measurements), health risk assessment survey, and a Health Quotient Score—a unique number that represents your health on a scale of 1 to 100, so you can track your progress over time. Plus, you'll have the option to discuss your results with a doctor at no extra cost.

Cholesterol and lipid testing

Nearly 2 out of every 5 adults in the US have high cholesterol—and many don't know it. High cholesterol puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke over time.²

The AHA recommends adults 20 and older check cholesterol and other heart health markers every 4 to 6 years (if their risk stays low).³ For those 40+, doctors might use a tool to estimate your 10-year heart attack or stroke risk. If you have cardiovascular disease or a higher risk, you might need checkups more often. Talk with your doctor about what’s best for you.

Type 2 diabetes risk screening

Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Nearly 98 million American adults have prediabetes, and over 80% don't know it. This condition puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.⁵

The USPSTF recommends screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes for adults ages 35 to 70 with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher.⁶

Colorectal cancer screening

Colorectal cancer usually starts from small, noncancerous lumps (called polyps) on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Polyps are common and most don't turn into cancer. But polyps that do become cancerous tend to grow slowly. That’s why colorectal cancer screening is so important in cancer prevention. It helps find polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer in its early stages, when treatment can work best.⁷

The USPSTF recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45 and continue until age 75. For adults 76 to 85, it’s recommended that you talk with your doctor to decide the best approach for you.⁸ 

Talk with your doctor if you're unsure about your risk for colorectal cancer. Some people might need to start screening earlier and get tested more often.⁷ ⁸

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis screening

In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported around 1.6 million cases of chlamydia and 648,056 cases of gonorrhea in the US. In the same year, syphilis cases reached a 70-year high (207,255)—marking the highest number since 1950.⁹

It’s not always possible to know if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis because many people don’t have symptoms. Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI).⁹

The USPSTF recommends chlamydia and gonorrhea screening for¹⁰:

  • Women 24 or younger that are sexually active
  • Women 25 or older that are sexually active and at a higher risk for infection

The USPSTF recommends syphilis screening for anyone at a higher risk for infection.¹¹

Health screenings and tests to consider at least once (or more depending on your lifestyle)

Prostate screening

The prostate, a walnut-shaped gland, plays an important role in male reproductive health. Its primary function is to produce and secrete prostate fluid, a key component of semen. The prostate also helps regulate urine flow by squeezing the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body) and preventing leakage. While typically a small gland, the prostate can become enlarged or even develop cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a protein produced in the prostate by both cancerous and noncancerous cells.¹⁵

The USPSTF recommends that men aged 55 to 69 years make an individual decision about whether to be screened after a conversation with their clinician about the potential benefits and harms.¹⁶

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing

HIV is a virus that, if left untreated, can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight infections and ward off certain types of cancer cells. It can spread through direct contact with certain body fluids that contain the virus. These fluids include semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid, breast milk, and blood.¹²

The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Early detection is key because after an initial period that might feel like the flu, HIV often doesn't cause any symptoms for years. Screening can help people know their status and begin treatment right away.¹²

The USPSTF recommends HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, all pregnant people, and anyone at a higher risk for HIV.¹²

Hepatitis C testing

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness that goes away on its own. But for more than half of people, the infection becomes chronic (long term). Chronic hepatitis C can cause serious and life-threatening health conditions like liver damage and liver cancer.¹³

The USPSTF recommends HCV screening for everyone ages 18 to 79 (without symptoms or known liver disease) and anyone at a higher risk for HCV.¹⁴

Pap tests and cervical cancer screening (through the menopause journey)

Menopause is a time in a woman’s life when she naturally stops having periods. It's considered official once she hasn’t had a period for a whole year. Natural menopause usually happens between the ages of 40 and 58, but the average age for menopause is 51. It can also happen earlier or later for some women.¹⁷

You might be wondering if you still need Pap tests and cervical cancer screenings after menopause. The answer is—yes, for most women! Even if you've had a hysterectomy, screening might still be needed.¹⁸

ACOG recommends that women ages 30 to 65 continue to screen—even after menopause—by choosing 1 of 3 options¹⁹:

  • A Pap test and an HPV (human papillomavirus) test (co-testing) every 5 years
  • A Pap test alone every 3 years
  • An HPV test alone every 5 years

ACOG guidelines suggest that woman 65+ might not need screening if they don’t have a history of cervical changes and either¹⁹:

  • 3 negative Pap test results in a row
  • 2 negative HPV tests in a row
  • 2 negative co-test results in a row within the past 10 years

The most recent test should have been performed within the past 3 or 5 years, depending on the type of test. 

Discuss with your doctor how your age and personal risk factors might influence the tests and screenings you need. They can recommend the right tests and frequency for you.

No doctor visit is required to buy your own lab test at questhealth.com. PWNHealth and its affiliates review your purchase to ensure it is medically appropriate before submitting the test order for processing. PWNHealth also reviews your test results and will contact you directly if they require prompt attention. Included in each purchase is the option to discuss your test results with an independent physician; however, you are also encouraged to speak with your primary healthcare provider.


  1. National Institute on Aging (NIA). What do we know about healthy aging? Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/healthy-aging/what-do-we-know-about-healthy-aging 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cholesterol. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/index.htm 
  3. American Heart Association (AHA). How to get your cholesterol tested. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/how-to-get-your-cholesterol-tested 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lipoprotein (a). Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/disease/lipoprotein_a.htm 
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Prediabetes. Your chance to prevent type 2 diabetes. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html 
  6. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Screening for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/screening-for-prediabetes-and-type-2-diabetes  
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What is colorectal cancer? Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/what-is-colorectal-cancer.htm. 
  8. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Colorectal cancer: screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/colorectal-cancer-screening 
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually transmitted infections surveillance, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2022/default.htm 
  10. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Chlamydia and gonorrhea: screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/chlamydia-and-gonorrhea-screening 
  11. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Syphilis infection in nonpregnant adolescents and adults: screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/syphilis-infection-nonpregnant-adults-adolescents-screening 
  12. HIV.gov. USPSTF issues grade recommendations for PrEP & HIV Testing. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.hiv.gov/blog/uspstf-issues-grade-recommendations-prep-hiv-testing
  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hepatitis C. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/index.htm 
  14. US Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF). Hepatitis C virus infection in adolescents and adults: screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/hepatitis-c-screening 
  15. Cleveland Clinic. Prostate. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/23965-prostate 
  16. US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Prostate cancer: screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/prostate-cancer-screening 
  17. The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Changes at midlife. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife 
  18. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). 5 of the most common questions about menopause. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/5-of-the-most-common-questions-about-menopause 
  19. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Cervical cancer screening. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.acog.org/-/media/project/acog/acogorg/womens-health/files/infographics/cervical-cancer-screening.pdf 


  • US Preventive Services Task Force. Task Force at a glance. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/index.php/about-uspstf/task-force-at-a-glance 
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Who is the AAFP? Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.aafp.org/about.html 
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). About. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.acog.org/about 
  • American Heart Association (AHA). About us. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.heart.org/en/about-us 
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Adult preventive health care schedule: Recommendations from the USPSTF. Accessed March 13, 2024. https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/journals/afp/USPSTFHealthCareSchedule2023.pdf