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Health Screening

Contributor(s): Kyle Morawski, MD, MPH and Lindsay Gainer, RN, MSN
7 minute read
A patient having his blood pressure taken by a nurse.

Keep your health on track with routine health checkups

If you’ve delayed routine health care checkups during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Now is a great time to see your primary care provider (PCP) to keep your health on track. Getting regular health care and screenings can help prevent serious health problems or help you catch them early, when you may have more treatment options. 

“It is still true that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, even during our new normal of this pandemic,” says Kyle Morawski, MD, MPH, a Mass General Brigham internal medicine doctor. “We have even expanded services by doing more virtual care, in order to achieve necessary screening while optimizing safety and convenience.” 

Why are annual physicals important?

At your physical, your PCP can check your blood pressure, weight, and other changes in your health. This is a great opportunity to share any concerns you may have. Your provider can screen you for common physical and behavioral health conditions and order any additional screening tests you may need. 

Ask your PCP if you’re up to date with your vaccinations. Vaccines are one of the best ways to stay healthy. For example, it’s important to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot, as well as flu vaccine every year. Depending on your health history and age, you may need routine vaccines for Tdap, hepatitis A and B, the human papillomavirus (HPV), shingles and pneumonia. 

What are health screening tests?

Screening tests are an important part of preventive health care. They check for health conditions and diseases before you have symptoms. If a screening tests shows you may have a new health condition, additional tests can confirm a diagnosis. Screening tests can find conditions early, when they’re easier to treat. Often it’s possible to make lifestyle changes to keep your condition under control.

Learn about Mass General Brigham Integrated Care

Common health screenings

The screening tests you need depend on your age, your sex, your family health history, and whether you have risk factors for certain diseases. Some conditions that doctors screen for include:

Common health conditions


  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer in men

Infectious diseases

  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
It is still true that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, even during our new normal of this pandemic. We have even expanded services by doing more virtual care, in order to achieve necessary screening while optimizing safety and convenience.

Kyle Morawski, MD, MPH
Internal Medicine Doctor
Mass General Brigham

Cancer screening guidelines

Cancer screenings save lives. Talk to your PCP about screenings for:

  • Breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to 3 years before it can be felt. Women age 40 and older can work together with their provider to decide when to start mammograms. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every 2 years.
  • Colorectal cancer. The USPSTF recommends adults begin screenings at age 50. Some groups recommend starting earlier, at age 45. Talk to your provider about when to begin screenings and decide which cancer screening test is right for you.
  • Cervical cancer. You should get a pap smear as scheduled, especially if you had an abnormal pap smear in the past. The USPSTF recommends screening for cervical cancer every 3 years with cervical cytology alone in women aged 21 to 29 years. For women aged 30 to 65 years, the USPSTF recommends screening every 3 years with cervical cytology alone, every 5 years with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) testing alone, or every 5 years with hrHPV testing in combination with cytology (co-testing).  
  • Lung cancer. If you’re between the ages of 50 and 80 and have a long history of smoking, ask your PCP if you may be a good candidate for annual lung cancer screening.  
  • Prostate cancer. According to the USPSTF, men aged 55 to 69 years should discuss with their PCP whether periodic prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening is right for them. 

What if my screening tests show I may have a new condition or disease?

Your PCP explains your screening test results to you. They will let you know if you need any additional bloodwork or imaging to diagnose a new condition. Your provider may refer you to specialist to review your screening tests and perform or review diagnostic tests.

Integrated Care: A convenient, coordinated approach

Mass General Brigham’s Integrated Care is a model that ensures seamless coordination of care between your PCP and specialists following health screenings. We understand waiting for test results and referrals to specialists can be stressful and time-consuming, so we developed an approach that ensures timely referrals, testing and treatment in one convenient location. 

Our PCPs foster collaboration between the top specialists who work together in your care to give you easier access to your providers to get answers quickly. Your PCP and specialists partner with you to make sure you have access to care at the right place and time. Patient navigators help coordinate the day-to-day details of your care. Our commitment is to bring the best of care closer to you and connect you to total health.

“Our Integrated Care locations are multidisciplinary facilities where you can potentially see your primary care physician and other specialists in one location,” says Vice President of Operations Development, Lindsay Gainer, RN, MSN. Gainer trained as a registered nurse and has worked in a variety of settings as a health care leader for over 20 years. She’s worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings and saw a real need to help patients find care in a coordinated way.

“The staff and providers share a workspace and have access to the same information to provide care for patients,” Gainer adds. “You don't have silos between different specialty areas. Instead, it’s one integrated care model that results in an improved experience for patients because our providers are working together to provide truly integrated and collaborative care.”

What if I’m concerned about changes in my health?

If you have concerns about changes in your health at any time, contact your PCP. They can help determine if you need a checkup, bloodwork or testing to diagnose any new conditions that may need treatment. Trust your instincts and don’t delay care.

Kyle Morawski, MD, MPH headshot


Internal Medicine Doctor