Screening Tests for Adults (age 50 and above)

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Not everyone in this age group may need screening for every condition listed here. Click on the links above to read more about each condition and to determine if screening may be appropriate for you or your family member. You should discuss screening options with your health care practitioner.

Diabetes

While not recommended as a general screen, testing for diabetes is recommended based on known risk factors.
This difficult-to-manage disease is now occurring with alarming frequency, affecting a younger age group and certain ethnic groups in particular. In the UK the prevalence of diabetes in the older age group is between two and five per cent, most having type 2 diabetes. It is likely that an equal number are undiagnosed. As many as 20 percent of Asians over the age of 40 have diabetes. Many are unaware that the have the disease, and there is concern about the complications that can develop. Although many experts say that more data are needed to justify the cost and value of earlier and broader screening, some groups have amended their recommendations to address this growing health problem. The NHS National UK Screening Committee policy position (March 2003) is that general population screening should not be offered except as part of a peer reviewed and ethically approved project. Diabetes UK lists high risk groups as including:

  • Caucasian people aged over 40 years and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups aged over 25 years, with:
    • a first degree family history of diabetes
    • overweight and who have a sedentary lifestyle
    • ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease or hypertension
  • Women who have had gestational diabetes (screen at one year post-partum and then three-yearly)
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are obese
  • Those known to have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia.

Diabetes UK currently recommends active case finding every three years of those at increased risk of developing diabetes. For screening high risk groups for diabetes, a glucose tolerance test is the most comprehensive test but fasting glucose alone or venous glucose two hours following a glucose load are alternatives. Urine testing for glucose is not recommended as it is not sensitive enough i.e. it misses too many cases.