8 essential health screening all men need
When compared to women, men fail miserably at making it a priority to visit their doctor for regular health screening tests. Getting routine health screenings may be the last thing on most men’s minds yet they really should be one of their first. Men are 24 percent less likely to visit their doctors in any given year than women and 22 percent less likely to get their cholesterol checked. They are also less willing to be screened for cancer, despite the fact that their cancer mortality rates are higher.
The reasons for their stubbornness on getting routine health screenings boils down to this – many men are simply not as in tune with their bodies as women, they tend to miss signs of a serious problem or chalk it up to getting older, or they fear something is wrong but they would rather not know.
But skipping routine tests for men can often be a matter of life and death. Regular health screenings are important as they help to catch a disease at an earlier stage making the chance of a full recovery more likely.
The good news is most men’s health screenings are easy, quick, and can be done in their doctor’s office. Here are 8 men’s health screening tests all men should add to their preventative healthcare:
1. Prostate cancer checks
The most common cancer in men is prostate cancer other than skin cancer. The majority of prostate cancers are slow-growing but some can be aggressive and fast-growing types as well. When a man schedules regular prostate cancer screening tests beginning at age 40, if any disease is found at an early stage, they should have an excellent chance of recovery. Screening tests for men for prostate cancer include a simple blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam.
2. Testicular cancer
Even though testicular cancer is not very common, the incidence rate of it has been increasing in the United States and many other countries for several decades.
It is considered to be a cancer of young men as they are at the greatest risk of developing testicular cancer. Most cases occur in men ages 15-39 and it is the most common cancer among men ages 20-34. The average age at the time of diagnosis of testicular is about 33. Only nine percent of men with testicular cancer are older than 50.
This makes it imperative men within these age ranges, to do a monthly self-examination of their testicles. If any lumps, bumps or other changes are noticed, they need to see their doctor as soon as possible as testicular cancer has a very high cure rate.
3. Colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. This cancer begins in the colon or rectum starting out as a growth called a polyp on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some types of polyps can change into cancer but not all polyps are cancerous. The most effective way to prevent colorectal cancer is to find and remove the colon polyps before they turn cancerous. The most common test to detect polyps and colorectal cancer is to have a colonoscopy done beginning at age 50 or younger if colorectal cancer runs in your family.
4. Skin cancer
The most common cancer found in men is skin cancer. The most dangerous form is malignant melanoma. Men not only have a higher risk of developing this deadly skin cancer than women but also have a higher death rate. Men tend to get more ultraviolet exposure (UV) because of their jobs and consequently more sunburns; men often do not consistently use sunscreen and are more likely to discover a malignant spot at a later stage.
Every man should get in the habit of doing a skin self-exam. Here is a link of an excellent video on how to do this. With a partner’s help, men can have their partner check hard-to-see areas like their back for any suspicious looking changes in skin.
5. High blood pressure
High blood pressure increases with age and is related to excess body weight. When blood pressure is high, it can cause serious complications including heart attacks or strokes. Every man should have their blood pressure taken at least yearly if not more frequently. The procedure is quick, painless and gives results right away. The more times they have it checked, the more likely hypertension can be caught early and treated.
6. Cholesterol levels
Knowing cholesterol levels is a vital part of keeping tabs on one’s health. A high level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in the walls of arteries increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. If high cholesterol levels are not kept under control, a man will be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. To determine cholesterol levels, all it takes is a blood test done at a doctor’s office telling a man his levels of total cholesterol and how healthy his arteries are.
7. Type 2 diabetes
It is estimated that one-third of people with diabetes are unaware of their condition. Many people may have virtually no symptoms but if not caught, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, neuropathy and erectile dysfunction in men. All these can be preventable if diabetes is diagnosed early to avoid the complications.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults age 45 and older get screened for type 2 diabetes every three years by their healthcare provider with a blood test called Hemoglobin A1C. But if a man is overweight, leads a sedentary lifestyle, has a family history or is of ethnic descent, they may need to be screened at a younger age.
8. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Any man, who is sexually active and/or has multiple partners, should be tested for STDs. Men may not realize they’re infected as many infected men have no symptoms and therefore could be spreading it to others. However, that doesn’t mean that STDs aren’t affecting their health. When an STD occurs in a man, they can include pain or burning during urination, a need to urinate more frequently, pain during ejaculation, abnormal discharge from the penis or bumps, blisters, or sores on the penis or genitals.
Regular STD testing is a good idea for men if they’re not in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship and will be the best way to take charge of sexual health. Men should ask their doctor for STD testing at their annual physical. Men can also find a nearby STD testing center at gettested.cdc.gov.