Health screening tests save lives by picking up the signs and symptoms of diseases when they are in their earliest and most treatable stages. Still, many people don’t know about or undergo the proper screening tests each year. Exactly what health screenings you need depends on age, sex, and family history, as well as any risk factors you may have. Some important health screenings you may not be getting include: 1. Colon Cancer Screening Regular screening for colon cancer via a colonoscopy should begin at age 50 or earlier if you have other risk factors, such as a family history of the cancer, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Yet 24 million Americans who should have one don’t because they feel it is unnecessary, they dislike the procedure itself, or they think the cost is too high among other reasons. During the procedure, a long flexible tube called a colonoscope with a tiny camera attached is inserted into the rectum. Many people dislike the preparation more than the test itself. Typically, there is no solid food allowed the day before the test, and you must drink large volumes of clear liquid containing laxatives to cleanse your system. Remember, colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colon cancer, and this test can save your life. Make sure to talk with your doctor about when to schedule yours. 2. Breast Cancer Screening A mammogram or breast X-ray can help detect breast cancer. Many women skip their mammogram because of cost, discomfort or fear, but this test may spot breast cancer before it enlarges or has started to spread. Discuss your breast cancer risk factors with your doctor to come up with your personalized breast cancer-screening plan. Most public and private insurers will cover the costs associated with breast cancer screening. 3. Cervical Cancer Screening Most women aged 21 to 65 should be screened for cervical cancer. The recommendation for women 21 to 29 is a Papanicolaou test (Pap test) every three years. This test can save your life by finding abnormal cervical cells before they turn into cancer cells. Early treatment will prevent most cases of cervical cancer from ever developing. Cervical cancer screening also includes human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. HPV can cause causes genital warts and cancer. Some of the reasons women skip this important health screening exam is they believe myths about Pap smears. One myth suggests you only need the test if you are not sexually active (not true). Another myth states you don't need a Pap smear if you've passed menopause (also not true). Women 30 and older may have the HPV test every five years, combine it with the Pap test every five years, or have the Pap test alone every three years, according to recent guidelines. 4. Skin Cancer Screening There is no substitute for skin cancer prevention, but regular skin checks can help detect skin cancer early. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends skin self-exams to check for signs of skin cancer plus a yearly exam from a doctor. If you see something that looks suspicious on your skin, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The AAD offers free skin cancer screening throughout the year. Find one near you at the official AAD website. 5. Bone Density Screening Tests The statistics are staggering: One in five people who sustain a hip fracture will die within a year of their injury, but these potentially devastating fractures can be prevented with regular screenings for the brittle bone disease—osteoporosis. Bone density scans can help quantify fracture risk before a fracture occurs. Medications and certain lifestyle changes can help increase bone strength. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for osteoporosis in women age 65 years and older and in younger women who are considered at high risk for a fracture. Talk to your doctor about your risks. 6. Complete Blood Count A complete blood count (CBC) is a broad screening test that can reveal important information about your health. Serious diseases of the blood and bone marrow easily escape detection without a CBC. This simple test should be performed during your annual physical or in the presence of illness. The blood sample can be collected any time of day without the need for fasting. 7. Oral Health Screening As many as 100 million Americans don’t see their dentist for a yearly check-up, but these visits can spot oral health problems early when they are easier to treat. What’s more, these visits can help prevent many dental problems from developing in the first place. 8. Annual Eye Exam Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration are important causes of irreversible, yet preventable, blindness. Regular vision tests can identify any changes or problems with your eyesight. The Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests that individuals younger than 40 get screened every two to four years and that those age 40 to 54 be tested every one to three years. This increases to every one or two years for people age 55 to 64, and senior citizens should have yearly eye exams, the group states. 9. Heart Disease Screening Tests Heart disease is largely preventable, and this starts by understanding your risk factors. The best way to get a handle on them is through regular screening. This includes tests that measure blood pressure, cholesterol and other blood fats as well as blood sugar or glucose levels. Talk to your doctor about how often you should be screened. There is no substitute for a frank discussion with your doctor about what health screening tests you need on a yearly basis.