GEHA | June 18, 2019
June is Men’s Health Month. Men are less likely than women to take time for their health and get regular health screenings.
Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Here are the screenings men should include in their annual physicals.
Type 2 diabetes: One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness. You are at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Screenings for diabetes include a fasting blood sugar test and an A1C test to measure long-term blood sugar level. Healthy adults should be tested annually starting at age 45. If you are at higher risk, talk to your doctor about getting screened at an earlier age. Diabetes can be controlled with diet, exercise, weight loss and medications.
High blood pressure: The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms. When it is treated, you can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is 130/80 mm Hg or higher. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan including diet and exercise to manage it.
High cholesterol: High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A fasting blood test is typically used to look at your cholesterol levels. Starting at age 20, men should be screened if they are at increased risk for heart disease. Starting at age 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.
Prostate cancer: This is the second most common cancer found in men. It tends to be slow growing, but there are also aggressive, fast growing types. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective. Average-risk men should talk to their doctor about this screening at age 50. Men at high risk should start screening at age 40, including African Americans and if there is a family history for prostate cancer.
Testicular cancer: Most cases of this cancer occur between ages 20 and 54. Men should have a testicular exam during their routine physical. Some doctors advise regular self-exams, too.
Colorectal cancer: This is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. A colonoscopy or colorectal screening are the common tests for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. Screening should begin at age 50 in average-risk men. Consult with your doctor for the best screening plan.
Skin cancer: The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men are also 2-3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Regular skin self-exams should check for any changes in marks including shape, color and size. Treatments are more effective and less disfiguring when skin cancer is found early.
Glaucoma: This is an eye disease that may lead to blindness. Screening tests look for abnormally high pressure within the eye. Adults should be tested every 2-4 years if under age 40; every 1-3 years for ages 40-54; every 1-2 years for ages 55-64; every 6-12 months for ages 65 and older. Talk with your doctor about a more frequent screening if you are in a high-risk group (including African-American), have a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injury or use steroid medications
“Essential Screening Tests Every Man Needs.” webmd.com, WebMD, 12 August 2018.
“Men’s Health Checklist for Every Age.” consumerreports.org, Consumer Reports, 13 June 2018.
“National Men’s Health Week.” cdc.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 September 2016.