10 Health Tests Men Need
Colon Cancer Screening
Did you know colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States? While colon cancer typically was only seen in older patients, younger and younger individuals are presenting with the disease. Therefore, it’s imperative to have this screening early and regularly.
“The number one health screening that men should prioritize is a colon screening because colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the US and these deaths are occurring at earlier and earlier ages. Men need to discuss with their physician when and how often to get screened, but men aged 45 and older absolutely need to schedule a colon screening,” advises Brynna Connor, MD, Healthcare Ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.
Your doctor will advise you when it is time for a screening, but for most men, it is every five years beginning at age forty-five. However, specific health issues, like Crohn’s, can be a cause for earlier and more frequent screening. The most common screening is a colonoscopy.
During the procedure, you’ll be placed under a general anesthetic or given medication to relax you so that a doctor can insert a scope into your rectum and colon. Your doctor will check for any polyps (or growths) or abnormalities and remove the tissue for further testing. At-home stool samples to check for colon cancer have gained popularity. Still, you should discuss this alternative with your doctor before cancelling your colonoscopy.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Along with colon cancer screening, prostate cancer screening should be another high-priority test for men. Prostate cancer screenings are usually non-invasive and straightforward compared to a prostate biopsy.
“Prostate cancer screening should also be a top priority for men to get screened for by their doctors. Men aged 50 and older absolutely should be getting screened, but sometimes depending on family history men should be screened earlier than age 50. Prostate cancer screenings are so important because prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and is also the fourth leading cause of death from cancer for men,” says Connor.
Most men will need regular prostate screening when they turn 50. However, if you have a family history or a specific condition, you may want to be screened earlier than age fifty. The older you get, the higher your risk of getting prostate cancer.
A prostate cancer screening can include a Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test in which a lab will draw a sample to check your body’s PSA levels. This test will tell your doctor how much of this protein is in your blood. The higher the levels of PSA, the greater the likelihood you could have cancer, in which case further testing will be required.
Another standard prostate screening method is the digital rectal exam (DRE), during which a gloved finger is inserted into the rectum to feel the prostate for protrusions or lumps. If any of these results are abnormal, your doctor can suggest further screening options, such as an MRI of the prostate or a prostate biopsy.
Lung Cancer Screening
Lung cancer can be tricky to treat due to its often late discovery, usually because it doesn’t produce symptoms. For this reason, screenings are imperative. However, you may only require a lung cancer screening if you are particularly at risk for the disease.
Lung screenings are called low-dose CAT or CT scans (LDCT). They can be more effective at diagnosing cancer than chest x-rays, especially in individuals who smoke or previously smoked. During an LDCT, you will lie on a table that will pass slowly through a CAT scan (CT) machine. No injections, medication, or dyes are required, and the procedure is painless.
Skin Cancer Screening
Everyone needs skin cancer screenings, not just men. This is because we are all at risk of getting cancer in the form of melanoma and basal and squamous cell carcinoma. In fact, one in five Americans will get skin cancer during their lifetime.
Catching skin cancer early is simple and quick with a screening. A board-certified dermatologist will examine your face, neck, head, arms, and hands though they can do a full-body check if desired. They are looking for any abnormalities, such as suspicious spots or moles. If they find anything concerning, they may remove it for a biopsy. Generally, you should have a skin cancer screening once a year.
Blood Pressure Check
Blood pressure checks should be a regular part of your routine doctor visits. This fast and non-invasive test screens for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure can develop in around thirty percent of the population. It can play a role in heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease.
During a blood pressure screening, your doctor will place a cuff around your upper arm. This cuff, called a sphygmomanometer, will be inflated. They will then use a meter and a stethoscope to listen to the vibrations caused by your blood flow. The average blood pressure reading is 120/80. The first (upper) number tells your doctor how much force your blood exerts against your artery walls when your heart beats, and the second (lower) number is the force when your heart is at rest. High blood pressure occurs when the upper number (120) and sometimes the lower number (80) is elevated.
Cholesterol Levels Testing
A cholesterol level screening may not be completely painless, but it is straightforward. All that is required is a blood draw. From this blood sample, your doctor will be able to screen your blood for how much Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and High-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol you have.
Increased bad cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries, putting you at risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Adults age eighteen and older usually need a cholesterol check every four to six years. Your physician may recommend more frequent screenings if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
Type 2 Diabetes Testing
Type 2 diabetes is a disorder where your body cannot properly use sugar as energy and fuel. As a result, too much sugar is left in your bloodstream, possibly leading to stroke, heart disease, or kidney disease.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends all adults 45 years of age or older get screened for diabetes. In addition, those younger than 45 but present with one or more risk factors, such as obesity, should also be screened.
You will need blood drawn to check for type 2 diabetes. A glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test will assess your plasma glucose levels. You may need to fast before your test. If your doctor believes you have or are developing diabetes, you will likely need to do more testing, including repeating the A1C diagnostic twice a year.
We usually think of health screenings as being performed by our primary care doctor and checking for things like colorectal cancer. However, other medical professionals can perform important screenings, too, like an eye exam!
Regular eye exams can help ensure your eyes function at optimal levels and check for early signs of ocular diseases. Medical eye exams are recommended for adults starting at age forty and every two to four years until you are fifty-four. From fifty-four onward, your optometrist should perform eye exams every one to three years. A family history of ocular diseases or certain risk factors can warrant testing at a younger age and more often.
Your mouth can tell doctors much about your overall health, making regular dental exams essential. A visit to the dentist can treat tooth and gum problems early and quickly, before they become significant, costly issues.
However, a dentist can spot issues like diabetes, oral cancer, and GERD. Most individuals will need a dental exam every six months. Your dentist can recommend whether you need an exam or treatment fewer times a year or more frequently.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become brittle and weak. Usually, it goes undetected until the bones fracture or break. To prevent bone injuries, undergoing osteoporosis screening is crucial even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Men aged seventy years and older should have bone mineral density (BMD) testing. Your doctor may advise vertebral imaging if your BMD test returned a concerning score. As the most common bone disease in humans, osteoporosis warrants regular screenings for older individuals.