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Regularly scheduled maintenance: Health screenings for men

Regularly scheduled maintenance: Health screenings for men

Many men wait until they’re injured or sick to make an appointment with their doctor. But would you wait until your car broke down to change the oil? Bodies are complex machines that need general maintenance. Annual wellness exams and health screenings for men are the best way to ensure everything’s running smoothly. They also allow you to take care of problems before they slow you down.

This kind of appointment is usually quick and easy. Typically, your provider will:

  • Ask you about your personal and family history to identify risk factors
  • Check your height and weight
  • Get your blood pressure and heart rate
  • Make sure your recommended vaccines are up to date
  • Talk with you about your questions or problems you’re having
  • Perform a simple and painless physical exam, including a visual check for skin cancer

Your provider may also run a few screening tests based on your age, exam, and risk factors.

Check under the hood

Screenings for cancers and prostate health are essential to staying healthy at many stages of life.

If you’re between 45 and 70, talk with your provider about the pros and cons of getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening or digital rectal exam to look for signs of prostate cancer.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous prostate condition that affects many men later in life, especially after age 60. Your provider may recommend a prostate exam if you’re over 40 and have symptoms of BPH.

Testicular cancer is rare. Still, it’s the most common cancer in men aged 35 and under. An annual exam with your provider and monthly self-checks can help detect testicular cancer early.

All men between 45 and 75 should be screened for cancer in the colon or rectum, often called colorectal cancer. There are several types of screening tests available. Your provider may order one or more tests.

Common screenings for colorectal cancer include:

  • Colonoscopy. This test is recommended for people of average risk starting at age 45. You’re usually given anesthesia to put you to sleep during the exam. If your first test is clear, you won’t need another one for 10 years.
  • Fecal occult blood test. This test looks for blood in your stool and is typically done once a year.
  • Stool DNA test. This stool sample test looks for abnormal genes associated with colorectal cancer. It’s usually done every three years.

Gay, bisexual, and queer men and other men who have sex with men may be at a higher risk for some anal cancers.

Catch hidden issues

Many health problems don’t have any symptoms until they are advanced. Annual exams can help identify these issues before they cause a serious or potentially life-threatening episode, such as a heart attack or stroke.

In most cases, you can’t feel if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. These two common issues may cause your heart to work overtime and damage your blood vessels and organs. Blood pressure should be checked annually for men of all ages. Men 35 and over should also have a blood test every five years to check cholesterol levels and help keep their bodies running well.

Like blood pressure, you may have high blood sugar and not know it. Diabetes is a serious health condition, but it is manageable. All men 45 and older should be screened for diabetes every three years, even if they don’t have any symptoms. Suppose you’re overweight and diabetes runs in your family or you have another risk factor. In that case, you should start screening for diabetes in your 20s.

Vision and eye problems may also be easily missed if not checked regularly. All men should be checked for eye disease every two to four years.

Based on your medical history and exam, your doctor may also screen for the following:

  • Anemia
  • Liver problems
  • Lung cancer
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Thyroid disease

Healthcare is for every body and mind

Physical health is only half of the equation. Your mental health matters too. Screenings for anxiety and depression are done at all routine exams for men of all ages.

Getting help with mental health challenges or a high level of stress doesn’t make you less of a man. It simply means you’re human.

We love a good story

We know sharing personal details or asking questions about your health can be challenging, but please don’t be shy. We’re here because of you.

We want to know what’s working well and what’s not. Healthcare providers have heard and seen just about all there is to hear and see. You won’t shock us, and we won’t judge you. Come on in, ask a few questions, and tell us your story.

If it’s been a while since your last wellness visit, it’s time to make sure everything is running as it should. Make an appointment with an LCMC primary care provider today.