Five screening tests every man needs

Red Deer fitness trainer talks importance of men's health

If you’re like most men, you hate going to the doctor. After all, you can probably tough it out, right? And more than likely, there’s some over-the-counter medicine to treat your condition at home. But throughout history, it’s been known that prevention is the best medicine. Catching a disease or unwanted condition in its early stages is the best way to ensure successful treatment. This is why regular medical screenings are so important.

Which tests you should have depend on your age and medical history. Be sure to talk with your doctor about which tests are recommended and how often you should be screened.

Here are five screenings every man should have, regardless of past health or lifestyle.

Screening 1: prostate cancer. It’s estimated that one out of every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in life. Prostate cancer is rarely seen in men younger than 40, with 60% of cases occurring in men older than 65. Like all cancers, prostate cancer should be taken seriously, but most diagnoses aren’t fatal. Beginning at age 50, all men should have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test as well as a digital rectal exam (DRE) each year. Men with family history who have had prostate cancer should be tested earlier.

Screening 2: high cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood lead to a build-up of plaque in the arteries. This narrowing of the arteries makes blood flow difficult and can lead to the formation of a blood clot, putting you at risk for heart attack, angina, heart failure, stroke and gallstones. Beginning at age 35 and every five years after that, men should have their cholesterol levels checked through a simple blood test. Men who smoke or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, or heart disease may need more frequent screenings.

Screening 3: colorectal cancer. Not including skin cancer, colorectal cancer ranks as the third most-commonly diagnosed cancer in men. One in 24 men can expect to get colorectal cancer in his life. Like other cancers, early detection is key to successful treatment. Beginning at age 50, all men should be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several forms of screening, so talk with your doctor about which is best for you. A stool test may be done or a colonoscope. Men with a family history of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or colon cancer may need more frequent screenings.

Screening 4: high blood pressure. Also called hypertension, high blood pressure is another serious risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and eye problems. The problem with high blood pressure is it often has no apparent symptoms and many people don’t even know they have the condition until it’s too late. Hence why it’s called a ‘silent killer’. Starting at age 20 and every two years after that, men should be tested for high blood pressure. The test is quick, painless, and involves no blood samples. Even some pharmacies have these testing booths available for free, check it out.

Screening 5: Type 2 diabetes. Did you know you could have diabetes and not know it? One out of three people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. Living with untreated diabetes can lead to serious health consequences including kidney disease, blindness, heart disease, stroke, impotence, and nerve damage. This is why beginning at age 45 and every three years after that, all adults should be tested for diabetes through a simple blood sugar test.

Worldwide, women live an average of five years longer than males. Could it be because they’re willing to seek medical attention? Don’t ignore your body fella’s, it’s the only one you have. And leave the ego at the door if you are seeking medical attention – it takes a true man to ask for help.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and the owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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