Preventive Care for Men

The best way to stay healthy is to be proac­tive with your health. On aver­age, men attend few­er pre­ven­tive care appoint­ments than women1. These impor­tant check-ins with your provider can help pre­vent the onset of dis­eases or poten­tial­ly detect them ear­ly, so when men miss them, they are at a high­er risk for devel­op­ing cer­tain dis­eases. Be sure you are up to date on the fol­low­ing pre­ven­tive health screenings: 

Col­orec­tal can­cer screening 

One in every 23 men will be diag­nosed with col­orec­tal can­cer in their life­time2. Your risk of devel­op­ing col­orec­tal can­cer is high­er if you have a fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease, are obese or reg­u­lar­ly eat red or processed meat. A colonoscopy screen­ing is a rou­tine pro­ce­dure to help providers detect this can­cer. Dur­ing this out­pa­tient pro­ce­dure, your provider will insert a tube with an attached micro­scop­ic cam­era into the rec­tum. The cam­era will help your provider view the intestines and remove any sus­pi­cious polyps so they can be biopsied. 

You should sched­ule a colonoscopy start­ing at age 45 accord­ing to the new guide­lines3. Although, your provider may sug­gest under­go­ing this pro­ce­dure at a younger age if you have a fam­i­ly his­to­ry of col­orec­tal can­cer or have irri­ta­ble bow­el syn­drome (IBS). This pro­ce­dure should be per­formed every 10 years if no abnor­mal­i­ties are found and you do not have any risk fac­tors. Fol­low up colono­scopies should be per­formed every one to three years after an abnor­mal find­ing or accord­ing to your doctor’s indi­vid­u­al­ized recommendation. 

Heart dis­ease

In the Unit­ed States, heart dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death for men4. Mon­i­tor­ing your blood pres­sure and cho­les­terol can help pre­vent the onset of heart dis­ease and/​or a heart attack. At annu­al check­ups, your blood pres­sure is screened and record­ed on your med­ical chart so your provider can track it over time. High blood pres­sure caus­es dam­age to the blood ves­sels which can impact blood flow to your heart. A nor­mal blood pres­sure lev­el is con­sid­ered 12080 mmHg accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease and Con­trol. If your blood pres­sure is high­er than that, your provider may sug­gest lifestyle changes such as diet and exer­cise or pre­scribe med­ica­tion that low­ers blood pressure. 

To screen your cho­les­terol, your provider will order blood­work. The results will show your good” or HDL cho­les­terol, bad” or LDL cho­les­terol and triglyc­eride lev­els. LDL cho­les­terol and triglyc­erides are con­sid­ered bad” cho­les­terol because when they are ele­vat­ed, you are more at risk of a heart attack5.

Prostate can­cer

13 out of every 100 men will devel­op prostate can­cer in their life­time6. Prostate screen­ings can help detect the can­cer in its ear­ly stages which can lead to bet­ter out­comes. Indi­vid­u­als with no risk fac­tors should be screened for prostate can­cer ever two to three years start­ing at age 55. How­ev­er, your fam­i­ly his­to­ry, symp­toms and eth­nic­i­ty are fac­tors your provider will con­sid­er and they may encour­age you to have a prostate screen­ing at an ear­li­er age. 

There are two types of screen­ings for prostate can­cer. A prostate-spe­cif­ic anti­gen (PSA) blood test screens for abnor­mal lev­els of the PSA pro­tein. A dig­i­tal rec­tal exam (DRE) is anoth­er method of detect­ing prostate can­cer7. Dur­ing this exam, your provider will feel inside the rec­tum for any bumps that could indi­cate cancer. 

Skin can­cer screening

Just like annu­al check­ups, men are less like­ly to attend a year­ly der­ma­tol­ogy appoint­ment. When men find a con­cern­ing mole on their skin, they are also less like­ly to sched­ule an appoint­ment with a der­ma­tol­o­gist to get it looked at. Skin checks, whether per­formed inde­pen­dent­ly or by a der­ma­tol­o­gist, can increase your chances of find­ing skin can­cer ear­ly. It’s rec­om­mend­ed that you per­form skin self-exams each month and see a der­ma­tol­o­gist year­ly for a full body skin exam. A der­ma­tol­o­gist will be able to exam­ine parts of your body that may be hard for you to exam­ine your­self such as your back, where skin can­cer is com­mon­ly found on men8.

Oth­er pre­ven­tive measures

In addi­tion to these annu­al check­ups and screen­ings, fol­low these pre­ven­tive mea­sures to boost your over­all health: 

• Eat a healthy diet

• Exer­cise for 30 min­utes daily

• Avoid tobac­co use

• Lim­it alco­hol intake

• Reduce stress

• Avoid risky activ­i­ties such as extreme sports

Sched­ule an appoint­ment with a pri­ma­ry care provider online or by call­ing your pre­ferred loca­tion to dis­cuss the best screen­ing options for you.

1Ianz­i­to, C. (2019, Sep­tem­ber 6). Why Men Don’t Go to the Doc­tor. In Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Retired Per­sons. Retrieved from https://​www​.aarp​.org/​h​e​a​l​th/he…

2Key Sta­tis­tics for Col­orec­tal Can­cer (2021, Jan­u­ary 12). In Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety. Retrieved from https://​www​.can​cer​.org/​c​a​ncer/…

3Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety (2021, Feb­ru­ary 4). In When Should You Start Get­ting Screened for Col­orec­tal Can­cer?. Retrieved from https://​www​.can​cer​.org/​l​a​test-…

4Men and Heart Dis­ease (2021, Feb­ru­ary 3). In Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Retrieved from https://​www​.cdc​.gov/​h​e​a​r​t​disea…

5HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cho­les­terol and Triglyc­erides (2020, Novem­ber 6). In Amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion. Retrieved from https://​www​.heart​.org/​e​n​/​healt…

6Who Is at Risk for Prostate Can­cer? (2021, Feb­ru­ary 24). In Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Retrieved from https://​www​.cdc​.gov/​c​a​n​c​e​r/pro…

7Screen­ing Tests for Prostate Can­cer (2021, Jan­u­ary 4). In Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety. Retrieved from https://​www​.can​cer​.org/​c​a​ncer/…

8Stallings, MD, FAAD, A. F. (n.d.). Why More Men Than Women Get Skin Can­cer. In North­well Health. Retrieved from https://www.westchesterhealth.…

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