31 Oct Health Screenings for Men
To maintain health and wellness, men must have certain routine health screenings. Health screenings are medical tests and assessments performed by your doctor to check for common health issues and illnesses. The tests and assessments your doctor will perform are often based on your risk factors and your age. The goal of screening tests is to catch illnesses and diseases as early as possible so that treatments can be started as soon as possible. You should see your doctor once a year for a general health exam where you can discuss recommended screenings. Routine screenings your doctor may recommend are as follows.
Blood pressure screening: Routine blood pressure checks should be performed at every doctor’s visit. Getting your blood pressure measured frequently can help your doctor detect high blood pressure early so that lifestyle modifications can be made to prevent heart disease.
Blood cholesterol screening: Men should begin having their blood cholesterol checked at age 35 if they have no known risk factors for heart disease. Blood testing should be repeated every five years if levels are normal. If levels are abnormal, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes like diet and exercise to normalize levels and will make recommendations for when levels should be rechecked.
Depression: It is estimated that one in every eight men suffers from depression or anxiety, and many of these men remain undiagnosed and untreated. Your doctor will ask you a set of questions to determine if you might be struggling with your mental health so that you can receive help if needed.
Colon cancer screening: Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Because colon cancer is so prevalent, it is recommended that all men begin colon cancer screening at age 40. The gold standard for colon cancer screening is a colonoscopy. If your colonoscopy is negative, you don’t have to repeat it for ten years. If your doctor finds any polyps, they will be removed and sent to the lab for evaluation. Once your doctor receives your results, they will discuss with you recommended treatments and when to have a repeat colonoscopy. Other colon cancer screening tests can be done through a stool sample, but they are less sensitive and can miss early signs of cancer.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm: An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged and weakened section of the aorta, the largest artery in the body. Men between the ages of 65 and 75 with a history of tobacco smoking should receive a one-time screening performed by ultrasound. Detection of an AAA is essential because if the aorta ruptures, it can cause severe or fatal internal bleeding.
Diabetes: Men with a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure should be screened for diabetes by their doctor. The screening time can vary based on your risk factors, but in collaboration with your doctor, you can decide when screening is appropriate for you. Please speak to your doctor if you experience symptoms of diabetes which can include severe thirst, frequent urination, unexpected weight loss, increased hunger, or tingling in the hands and feet.
STD screenings: All men under 65 should have at least a one-time blood screening for HIV and hepatitis C. These blood infections can cause serious health problems, but if they are detected early, medications are available to reduce transmission and allow you to live a relatively normal life. Your doctor may also ask you if you would like to be tested for other common sexually transmitted infections at your doctor’s visit. You can be tested for these infections through a blood or urine sample.
Prostate cancer: Prostate cancer screening recommendations can widely vary. You should speak with your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening to decide what is best for you. Different methods can examine the prostate. Unfortunately, neither is very reliable, and results can vary. Your doctor may recommend that you have a digital rectal exam to evaluate your prostate. Your doctor will insert a finger into your rectum to feel the back of the prostate gland for any abnormalities. Another way to check the health of your prostate is to have a blood test performed to look for the prostate-specific antigen in the blood. If this blood level is elevated, your doctor may recommend that further testing be performed.
Lung Cancer Screening: Men between 50 and 80 years old who have a 20-pack-year smoking history, currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years should receive an annual lung cancer screening. The screening is performed by a low-dose CT scan to detect any lung changes or masses so that they can be monitored and treated early.
Health screenings are a great tool to detect any health changes early. Most often, if you have an abnormal result on your health screening test, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing a serious condition. Please speak with your doctor about what health screenings are recommended for you.