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5 Screenings Men Shouldn’t Miss

Last updated: June 10, 2024

Men can accomplish so much in one visit. Just as important, these visits allow us to check in with men and further establish relationships that can help break down barriers to care in the future.

Dr. Scott Hetzel, Internal Medicine Physician, ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin

From busyness to fear of the unknown, many reasons can prevent men from keeping up with routine care. That hesitation comes with a risk. Men both have a shorter life expectancy than women and are likelier to die from chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.

Men’s Health Month in June encourages men — and boys — to take positive steps for their health. Staying on top of screenings is one important step men can take.

“Screenings and regular checkups help us track and manage men’s health risks,” says Dr. Scott Hetzel, an Internal Medicine Physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin. “In addition, when screenings come back normal, that’s one worry men can cross off their list.”

5 Screenings Not to Miss

1. Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second-most-common cancer in men in the United States, following skin cancer. It’s also the second-leading cause of cancer death, after lung cancer. About one in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“Most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer without symptoms,” says Dr. Andy Maes, a Urologist with ThedaCare. “Screening can save lives and lead to better outcomes.”

The ACS recommends screening beginning at:

  • Age 50 for men at average risk of prostate cancer who are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of prostate cancer, including all Black men and any man with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65.
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk, including those with more than one first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age.

“Men should talk with their doctor about their individual risk factors and share any concerns they may have,” Dr. Maes says.

2. Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in men. At the same time, colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early.

Guidelines call for regular screenings starting at age 45 for people at average risk for the disease. Those who have a normal colonoscopy should repeat the test every 10 years thereafter. People who are in good health and who have a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through age 75.

“Certain people need earlier or more frequent screenings,” Dr. Hetzel says. “Your doctor can help you determine when to begin screening and walk you through the screening options.”

3. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Going in for annual wellness visits can help men manage and track their risk.

Top heart disease risk factors include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. An annual checkup provides the opportunity to discuss these concerns. A doctor can determine the need for blood pressure medications and blood tests to monitor cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They may also recommend additional testing, such as coronary calcium score screening.

Men can further reduce their heart disease risk through:

  • Refraining from or quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Abstaining from or limiting alcohol consumption
  • Exercising regularly
  • Managing stress

4. Diabetes

Men are likelier to develop type 2 diabetes at a lower weight than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men tend to store fat in their bellies — a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Undiagnosed and unmanaged diabetes can lead to other serious health complications. These include heart disease, stroke, vision loss, and kidney failure.

At an annual wellness vist, a doctor can monitor for diabetes and pre-diabetes. A person with pre-diabetes has up to a 50% chance of developing full onset type 2 diabetes in the next five to 10 years. People with pre-diabetes have higher blood sugar than normal, but not high enough yet for a diabetes diagnosis. With healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reverse pre-diabetes.

5. Mental Health

Nonprofit organization Mental Health America reports that depression affects approximately 6 million men per year. At the same time, men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health and substance use concerns.

The reluctance to ask for help raises concerns. Unmanaged stress can increase the risk for other serious health problems. Beyond that, the suicide rate among males is approximately four times higher than among females, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  

“We have tools and screenings that can help uncover mental health concerns,” Dr. Hetzel says. “From there, we can help men explore treatment options.”

Prioritizing an annual checkup is a great way for men to start prioritizing their care.

“Men can accomplish so much in one visit,” Dr. Hetzel says. “Just as important, these visits allow us to check in with men and further establish relationships that can help break down barriers to care in the future.”

Take the first step toward better health

Tags: annual checkup Colonoscopy depression diabetes heart disease Men’s Health prostate cancer PSA

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