If you begin seeing a doctor regularly, getting screening tests, and taking preventive measures, your quality of life may be greatly improved. You may also reduce your risk of premature death and disability.
Advice from US Preventive Services Task Force
Screening tests help doctors detect diseases early, when they are easier to treat. The following recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) are general guidelines for screening procedures for healthy men. Since some men may need screening at more frequent intervals, consult your doctor for personalized advice.
Screening Procedures for Men
Why It Is Important
High blood pressureHigh blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and other problems. The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. There are no symptoms. Men aged 18 and over should have their blood pressure checked.
High cholesterolHigh cholesterol causes most of the same problems as high blood pressure. Beginning at age 35, men should have their cholesterol checked. If you are at an increased risk for coronary artery disease, you should have it checked beginning at age 20.
Colorectal cancerColon and rectal cancers are the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men in the US. Early detection can drastically reduce the likelihood you will die from the disease. Men aged 50-70 years old should be screened for colorectal cancer. When to be screened depends on which test your doctor recommends:
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)—used to check for hidden blood in the stool (should be done annually).
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy —an examination of the rectum and lower colon using a sigmoidoscope (every 5 years).
- Colonoscopy —an examination of the rectum and entire colon using a colonoscope (every 10 years).
Abnormal glucose and type 2 diabetesDiabetes is associated with long-term complications that affect almost every part of the body. If detected early enough, you can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and the complications. Men aged 40-70 years old who are overweight or obese should be screened for abnormal blood glucose levels as part of a normal cardiovascular disease risk assessment. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and how to better manage them.
DepressionSymptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lost of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. Treatment can alleviate the symptoms in many cases. USPSTF recommends routine screening for adults. If you have any symptoms related to depression, talk to your doctor. Depression is treatable.
ObesityBeing overweight or obese can greatly increase your risk of a variety of other health problems. Adults aged 18 and over should be screened for obesity.
Although there are not specific guidelines for every condition, you should be aware of your body enough to notice changes. Examples include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma—Affects the upper layers of the skin.
- Basal cell carcinoma—Originates in the deeper basal cells, but can appear on the skin's surface layers.
- Melanoma—Tumors that arise in the skin that gives moles their dark color. Melanomas are not as common, but they are more aggressive and deadlier because they can spread to other parts of the body.
Between doctor visits, you should examine your skin carefully from head to toe once a month. Be alert for new lesions and changes in the ones that you already have. Some areas are difficult to see, such as the back of your head. Have someone help you, or use a mirrors.
Testicular cancer is a rare, but serious cancer that is more common in young men (adolescence through mid-30s). Your doctor may examine your testicles during regular checkups, but be aware of new lumps or other changes that occur between physical exams.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.
In addition to screenings, it is recommended that men regularly have a check-up to review overall health status. Also, men should stay up-to-date with their immunizations. Examples of vaccines that you may need include:
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Tetanus-diphtheria (Td) or Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap)
- Varicella or Shingles
- Hepatitis A and B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Going to the doctor provides men the opportunity to get checked out for health problems they may or may not realize they have (or are at risk for). The earlier men start seeing a doctor on a regular basis, the earlier they can establish a relationship with someone they trust and feel comfortable talking to. And, by learning what is normal early on, it will be easier to detect any serious changes later.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2016 -
- Update Date: 02/15/2016 -