Screening tests and men’s health

Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. With early detection, colon cancer can be nipped in the bud. Finding diabetes early may help prevent complications such as vision loss and impotence. The tests you need are based on your age and risk factors.

Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.
Screenings for healthy men may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and possibly a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Government guidelines recommend against the routine use of the PSA test. The American Cancer Society advises each man to talk with a doctor about the risks and possible benefits of the PSA test. Discussions should begin at: 50 for average-risk men, 45 for men at high risk such as black men and 40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer.

Testicular Cancer
This uncommon cancer develops in a man’s testicles, the reproductive glands that produce sperm. Most cases occur between ages 20 and 54. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Men at higher risk (a family history or an undescended testicle) should talk with a doctor about additional screening. Some doctors advise regular self-exams, gently feeling for hard lumps, smooth bumps, or changes in size or shape of the testes.

Tests for Colon Cancer
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test. A similar alternative is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that examines only the lower part of the colon.

Some patients opt for a virtual colonoscopy-a CT scan-or double contrast barium enema -a special X-ray -although if polyps are detected, an actual colonoscopy is needed to remove them.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm – dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it

Your doctor may check your blood pressure more frequently, possibly every time you have an office visit. This is wise and should be expected, as high blood pressure can lead to some of the most difficult complications in health. Heart attack or heart failure, stroke, eye problems, metabolic syndrome, small vessel disease, problems with understanding or memory (cognition), and kidney disease are all by-products of high blood pressure.

Cholesterol Test
Unfavourable blood cholesterol alterations, which can consist of elevations in LDL (“bad” cholesterol), reductions in HDL (“good” cholesterol), and elevations in triglycerides, can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends all people aged 20 or older, without any history of heart disease, get their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years. People with certain risk factors like tobacco use, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a strong family history for high cholesterol, should get their levels checked more frequently and at a younger age. Screening involves a simple blood test. You may need to fast before this test for 8 to 12 hours, so if you can schedule it first thing in the morning that usually works best.

To be continued.

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