We all need to have regular health screenings to make sure we are healthy, but during the pandemic, many men and women put off their screenings, and now is the time to get back on track — June is Men’s Health Month, a reminder that health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They can help find potentially serious issues early, when your chances for treatment and a cure are better.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are more likely than men to visit their doctor for annual tests and preventive care. And many doctors are concerned that because of the pandemic, people may not be seeking care until it is too late, and men often ignore signs of health issues.
When screenings or needed care is delayed, there is a greater risk for secondary issues. You should not be afraid to schedule screenings or follow up on things that may be signs of something bigger going on. Your health can’t wait. When you are getting the right health screenings and treatments, you are increasing your chances for living a longer, healthier life.
There are a number of health screenings that are important, and depending on age, health, family history and lifestyle choices. Other screenings not listed here may be considered due to personal and family history. In general, some of the most important exams men should be getting are listed below.
Top seven health screenings for men:
• Cholesterol: More than 30% of American adults have high cholesterol. High cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol has no signs or symptoms, so it’s important to get it checked to know for sure.
• High blood pressure: High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition. It’s called the “silent killer” because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. Be sure to get it checked regularly.
• Diabetes: Too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems over time. This can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Have your doctor check your blood glucose, or blood sugar, regularly.
• Colorectal cancer: Colorectal cancer occurs when tumors form in the lining of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum. It is common in both men and women. If you’re 50 or older, you should get either a colonoscopy every 10 years or a virtual colonoscopy every 5 years. Alternatively, a less-invasive, stool-based screening can be performed every year.
• Prostate cancer: The prostate is a small gland in men that produces fluid for semen. Men ages 55-69 should talk to their doctor about whether to get screened. If a screening indicates a biopsy is recommended, transperineal ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy is a new technique available through Abrazo that reduces the risk of post-biopsy infection.
• Skin Cancer: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Report any unusual moles or changes in your skin to your doctor, especially if you are at an increased risk.
• Lung Cancer: Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the United Sates. More than 80% of the people who develop lung cancer get it from smoking. If you currently smoke, the best way to lower your risk is to quit.
Other screenings or exams may be appropriate for some individuals.
Age, health and family history, lifestyle choices and other important factors impact your health. Keep up with your preventive care and screenings, maintain an open dialogue with your doctor about your health and risk factors. Skipping your annual check-up, or even avoiding the ER if you have sudden chest pain or a severe headache can have serious, and maybe fatal consequences.
Dr. Sanjay Ramakumar is a urologist on the medical staff at Abrazo Central Campus in Phoenix. Visit abrazohealth.com.