Are You Up to Date on Your Preventive Care?

At a glance

Making healthy choices can help you avoid many chronic diseases and can even lower your risk of severe illness from some infectious diseases, such as the flu and COVID-19. But healthy behaviors are only part of the picture. Getting routine preventive care can help you stay well and catch problems early.

Doctor speaking with adult patient

Get regular medical and dental checkups

Regular checkups are separate from any other doctor's visit for sickness or injury. In addition to physical exams, these visits focus on preventive care, such as:

  • Screening tests, which are medical tests to check for diseases early, when they may be easier to treat.
  • Services, like vaccines (shots), that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems.
  • Dental cleanings.
  • Education and counseling to help you make informed health decisions.

Know your family health history

Family health history is a record of the diseases and health conditions in your family. You and your family members share genes. You may also have behaviors in common, like what you do for physical activity and what you like to eat. You may live in the same area and come into contact with similar harmful things in the environment. Family history includes all of these factors, any of which can affect your health.

If you have a family history of a chronic disease, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis, you're more likely to get that disease yourself.

You can't change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors that can cause chronic diseases—like smoking, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, or excessive drinking. If you have a family health history of disease, you may have the most to gain from these lifestyle changes and from preventive care practices, like regular checkups, vaccinations, and screening tests.

Talk to your family. Write down the names of close relatives from both sides of your family—parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Include information on major medical conditions, causes of death, age at disease diagnosis, age at death, and ethnic background.

Your doctor can help you take steps to prevent certain health conditions and chronic diseases—or catch them early, when they're easier to treat.

Learn more about the importance of acting on your family health history.

Talk to your family, then your doctor‎

You can use My Family Health Portrait to keep track of your information. Be sure to update this information regularly and share what you've learned with your family and your doctor.

Stay Up to Date on Cancer Screenings

Cancer screening means checking your body for cancer before you have symptoms. Getting screening tests regularly may find breast, cervical, and colorectal (colon) cancers early, when treatment is likely to work best. Lung cancer screening is recommended for some people who are at high risk. Learn more about CDC-recommended screening tests.

Breast Cancer Screenings

Breast cancer screening can't prevent breast cancer, but it can help find breast cancer early, when it's easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you and when you should have them. Learn more about screening for breast cancer.

Cervical Cancer Screening

The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix that may turn into cancer. It can also find cervical cancer early, when the chance of being cured is high. The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes. Learn more about screening for cervical cancer.

Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. Learn more about screening for colorectal cancer.

Lung Cancer Screening

Yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography is recommended for people who are 50 to 80 years old and either have a history of heavy smoking and smoke now, or have quit within the past 15 years. Learn more about screening for lung cancer.

Get vaccinated

Vaccination is one of the safest and most convenient ways to protect your health. Vaccines offer protection in different ways, but they all help your body remember how to fight a specific infection in the future. It typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to build up that protection.

On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.

Adults need to keep their vaccinations up to date because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You're also at risk of different diseases as an adult.

Routine vaccinations‎

See the Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule and the Adult Immunization Schedule for more information about recommended routine vaccinations.

COVID-19 vaccination‎

COVID-19 vaccination can reduce your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. It is especially important for people with underlying health problems, like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

Flu vaccination‎

The best way to reduce your risk from seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated every year. Learn more at Prevent Seasonal Flu. Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine every season, especially people at higher risk.