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    Talk with your doctor to determine the best schedule for you, based on your family history and other risk factors.

    4. Colon cancer screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. When you turn 50, your chance of developing it increases. So -- unless you're at an above-average risk -- age 50 is when your doctor may recommend you start getting screened. The good news: there are several tests that can help detect colon cancer early. How often you're screened depends on which tests you and your doctor decide you should have, and what the results of your tests are. Some commonly performed screenings include:

    Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are two cancer screenings that can also help prevent cancer from developing. During these screenings, your doctor may find and remove precancerous polyps from your colon.

    5. Pap test. This test checks for cervical cancer, which is easy to treat when caught early. Although your risk of cervical cancer decreases with age, your need for routine Pap tests doesn’t stop with menopause. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women ages 21 to 65 have a Pap test every 3 years. Women ages 30 to 65 may have screening every 5 years using a combination of Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. Women who have a higher risk of cancer may need a Pap test more often. Your doctor can recommend what is best for you.

    6. Bone mineral density scan. This screening checks your risk for osteoporosis. It's recommended for all women at age 65. If you are at high risk, your doctor may recommend this test once you turn 60.

    Men, ages 70 and older, may also benefit from this screening.

    7. AAA screening. Experts recommend a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening for men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked at any point in their lives. This ultrasound screens for an enlarged blood vessel in the abdominal area that can cause severe bleeding and death if it ruptures. If your blood vessel is enlarged, surgery can often correct it.

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    Henry S. Lodge, MD, is an associate clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University and co-author of Younger Next Year...More

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    Vitality at 50 and Beyond

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