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Screenings are tests that look for diseases and other health conditions before you have symptoms. The benefit of screening is finding a disease or condition early, when it's easier to treat. Examples of screening tests that doctors may recommend are tests for colorectal cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, breast cancer and cervical cancer.

Screenings have risks. It is important to know which tests you need, and how often you need them. You can learn more about which screening tests you need at this website.

When you are thinking about what screenings you need, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What tests do I need?

    • Not everyone needs every screening test. Which tests are recommended for you depends on the disease and on factors such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, family history, if you are pregnant, and behavior such as smoking or sexual activity.
    • Talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you. Ask at what age you should start getting screened for each disease and at what age you can stop.
    • Get more information about what screening tests are recommended by age and gender from reliable sources such as
    • Some companies sell screening tests for example through newspaper ads, flyers or the internet. Some of these tests can waste your money and sometimes can lead to harm. Talk to your doctor before getting a test.

  2. Where do I start?

    • Start by using this tool from to find out which tests might be right for you, print off the information to share with your health care provider.

      • Click here for basic, easy to read information about screening tests
      • Click here for detailed information on US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations on preventive health topics

  3. Are screening tests free?

    Often - Yes!

    • If you have health insurance

      • Most health plans must cover a set of preventive services — like shots and screening tests — at no cost to you even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. They cannot charge you a copayment or coinsurance. Note that these services are free only when delivered by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network.
      • Click on the links to find out which preventive services are available for free for all adults, for women and for children and adolescents who have health insurance. Visit the – preventive care services for more information.
    • If you don’t have health insurance

      • Los Angeles County residents who are not insured can obtain information about coverage options and free and low cost health care programs at the Department of Health Services website or by calling the LA Healthline at 1-800-793-8090 (see #4 below for information).

  4. If I don’t have a doctor, how can I get the screening tests that I need?

    • Call or email the Los Angeles County LA Healthline. This FREE service connects you to resources, services, and information that can help you stay healthy. It is available to ALL women (and men), even if you don’t have health insurance, do not qualify for free or low cost services or programs, or don’t think you can get health insurance. Hotline operators speak seven languages.

      hotline information

  5. What should I ask when I get a screening test?


    • When will I get the results?
    • Who can I talk to if I have questions?
    • Do I need to be screened again, and if so, when?


How can I find out more? For more information on screening and prevention check out:

Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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