The topic of men’s health invites conversation about screening tests men should consider in their quest to live their best and longest lives. Screenings are designed to catch health problems before symptoms appear, when treatment is easiest and most effective, many of which are offered at RAI. Herein are some of the most important screening tests, listed in order of age groups.
Blood Pressure – ages 18 and up
The chances of developing high blood pressure increase with age, but can also affect young people, especially those who have a genetic predisposition or are overweight, over-stressed or physically inactive. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, so have your blood pressure checked regularly and if it is high (130/80 or higher), work with your doctor to lower it.
Testicular Cancer – ages 20 and up
Although relatively uncommon, testicular cancer can strike even young men. In fact, most cases of testicular cancer happen between the ages of 20 and 54. In addition to engaging in self-examination for changes in shape, bumps or lumps, you should also make sure your doctor performs a testicular exam during your regular physical. If you have a family history of testicular cancer or an undescended testicle, talk to your clinician about additional screening options.
Cholesterol – ages 20 - 35 and up
LDL cholesterol is the type that causes plaque to stick to and harden the walls of the arteries, stealthily increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke year after year. Men with a personal or strong family history of heart disease are at higher risk, and for them fasting lipid blood panel screening should begin at age 20. For most men, however, a fasting lipid blood panel should be performed at age 35 and thereafter as often as recommended by a clinician.
Prostate Cancer – ages 40 – 50 and up
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting American men, striking 1 in 6. Most prostate cancers grow slowly without symptoms, but some grow quickly, so routine screening is important. Men whose fathers developed prostate cancer should consider getting screened regularly beginning at age 40. Men with a more distant family history of the disease and African-American men should consider getting tested beginning at age 45, as both groups are at increased risk. Caucasian, Hispanic and Asian men of average risk should begin screening at age 50.
Screening tests for healthy men include digital rectal examination and, when recommended by a clinician, a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Men with elevated PSA may be eligible for a 3T MRI prostate scan, which can discover cancer earlier than other tests, without ionizing radiation. If you have elevated PSA, talk to your clinician about whether 3T MRI testing might be right for you. RAI is one of the few providers in the region offering this advanced test.
Colorectal cancer – ages 50 and up
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related mortality. Most colon cancers develop slowly and begin as colon polyps, so the best prevention is to find and remove polyps before they have a chance to become malignant. Common tests include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and virtual colonoscopy, which is a CT scan used to discover polyps noninvasively. Some men opt for CT because of comfort issues and/or time constraints. However, if polyps are discovered, a colonoscopy will be necessary to remove them.
Found early, these health issues can be managed or even eliminated. A little care and commitment can do a lot to promote a long and healthy life.