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Why screening tests matter?

June is Men’s Health Month – a great time to check in on how you’re taking care of yourself.

All men should have an annual physical exam that checks their weight, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, immunizations, along with having any recommended cancer screenings, based on the person’s age and health history.

Screenings help find diseases early and can discover cancers at an early stage, potentially reducing the extent of treatment needed and adding years to someone’s life. Your provider might recommend these screenings:

Colorectal cancer screening

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer.

Older than 50? Getting tested every 10 years (more frequently if at high risk) can help prevent colon cancer by identifying and removing polyps before they turn cancerous.

Lung cancer screening

Annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography is recommended for adults age 55 to 80 years who have long-term history of smoking or currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years.

Prostate cancer screening

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends all men have a testicular exam during a routine physical. Screenings may include a digital rectal exam and possibly a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Talk to your provider about the risks and possible benefits of the PSA test.

Skin cancer screening

The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men also are more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women. A skin exam by a dermatologist or other health professional should be part of a routine checkup.

High blood pressure screening

The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. Hypertension can lead to severe complications, including stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and other conditions. Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your provider to manage it.

Cholesterol screening

Too much bad cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries and put you at the risk for heart attack or stroke. A fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that includes your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat).

Starting at age 20, men should begin screening, if they are at increased risk for heart disease. Starting at 35, all men need regular cholesterol testing.

Diabetes screening

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and impotence.

Men at average risk should have a fasting blood sugar test, glucose tolerance test, or an AIC test every three years, starting at age 45.

Health screening guidelines will continue to evolve as technology and knowledge about diseases expands. Maintaining an ongoing relationship with a health care provider is the best way to receive up-to-date guidance about men’s health screenings as they are an important part of maintaining health and living well.

Dr. Vivek Arora is an internal medicine physician at Aurora Health Center, 45 Tower Court, Gurnee. To reach his office, call 847-623-3200.

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