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Here’s a sobering statistic: Men are 24 percent less likely to visit a doctor than women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Face it. Men often don’t take an active part in their healthcare. But they should, since a number of diseases primarily affect them—and early detection can mean a world of difference with regard to treatment, recovery and long-term prognoses. Here are five common screenings every man should consider. And don’t worry, they’re not as intense as they sound.
Why You Need It: Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among men. But it’s highly treatable.
What’s Involved: The first screening involves a digital rectal exam by a urologist to check for abnormalities in the prostate gland. The physician may recommend a PSA test, in which blood is drawn to look for increased levels of PSA.
At What Age and How Often: An annual digital rectal exam at age 40; a PSA screening at age 50, with testing every other year. For African-American men, who have a higher risk of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups, PSA testing should begin at age 40.
Why You Need It: Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among men; colon cancer risk increases with age.
What’s Involved: A flexible tube with a scope is inserted into the colon through the rectum, allowing a doctor to see the length of the colon for signs of polyps or cancerous growth. The tube also allows a physician to remove suspect tissue before it spreads.
At What Age and How Often: At age 50; repeated every 10 years if nothing is found.
Why You Need It: Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men ages 15 to 35.
What’s Involved: This self-exam is best conducted after a shower or bath, as it relaxes tissue. Visually check for any swelling. Then gently roll each testicle between thumb and forefinger to feel for lumps and check for pain. If anything unusual is detected, a physician can administer a blood test for tumor markers.
At What Age and How Often: Monthly after age 14
Why You Need It: Abdominal aortic aneurysm, in which the aorta (the largest blood vessel in the body) ruptures in the abdomen, is the 10th leading cause of death among men ages 50 and up.
What’s Involved: An ultrasound is taken of the abdomen, determining the size of the blood vessel.
At What Age and How Often: There is no set recommendation, but men who smoke, have high cholesterol or have a family history of this aneurysm are encouraged to take the test.
Why You Need It: Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer among men; more men than women are diagnosed with skin cancer overall.
What’s Involved: A skin cancer screening is a visual exam by a dermatologist, who inspects the size, shape and other characteristics of moles and the overall condition of the skin.
At What Age and How Often: Annually at any age
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