You may think of the doctor's office as someplace you go when you're
sick. But it's important to have an occasional visit when you're well too.
All men should have a few routine screening tests. These tests can help
catch health problems early, before they've progressed enough to cause
symptoms. And treatment in these early stages is more likely to be fully
You can get screened for lots of diseases, but most men only need screening
for a few. The diseases you need screening for, and how frequently you
should be screened, varies according to your health and risk factors.
The following tests are recommended for most men:
Blood pressure tests. A number of health organizations, such as the
American Heart Association (AHA), recommend blood pressure checks at least every two years and more
often if it is high. Keeping your blood pressure at safe levels will reduce
your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of American men.
Cholesterol screening. The AHA recommends cholesterol checks once every four to six years starting
at age 20.
High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease.
Colorectal cancer screening. Regular screening for this cancer should start at age 45, and maybe sooner
if you're at high risk.
Your doctor can help you decide on the best type of screening test for you.
Prostate exams. The
American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends talking to your doctor about prostate cancer screening
when you turn 50 years old. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and
digital rectal examination (DRE) can uncover this cancer at an early stage.
But screening has drawbacks, too, and some groups don't recommend
routine screening for this cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if
it's right for you.
For men at high risk, such as African-American men and men with a close
family member who had prostate cancer at an early age, the ACS recommends
the discussion with your doctor start at age 45 or earlier.
Blood glucose testing. All men age 45 and older should think about getting screened for diabetes, says the
National Institutes of Health. A simple blood test can reveal if you have diabetes or its precursor,
prediabetes. Identifying and treating these conditions in their early
stages helps prevent serious damage to organs all over the body.
This test is even more important for men with risk factors such as a family
history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or high
body weight. You're also at higher risk if your family background
is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander
Skin exams. The ACS recommends monthly self-exams to look for growths or changes that
could be skin cancer. Signs to look for include any type of change in
a mole or freckle, or a growth with uneven colors, borders or shape, or
that is larger around than a pencil eraser. Check your whole body, head
to toe, and consult your doctor about anything suspicious.
Depression screening. Screening for this serious, treatable disease should be a part of everyone's
regular healthcare, according to
Mental Health America.
If you've felt down, hopeless or uninterested in the things you usually
enjoy for two weeks straight, it's even more important to ask your
doctor about screening for depression.