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November 15, 2019


Men respect sports coaches and the advice they give. If men see doctors in the same way, they would be more likely to visit with them regularly to prevent disease and maintain good health.


Tips to Encourage Open Healthcare Conversations

November 14, 2019

BERLIN, Wis. – In the month of November there’s a movement called Movember, an effort to “cure” a men’s health crisis. According to Movember organizers, they want to help men live happier, healthier, longer lives, by stopping death from preventable disease. 

The global organization notes:  

  • Unchecked, prostate cancer rates will double over the next 15 years. 
  • Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. 
  • And across the world, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 75% of all suicides.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a slight improvement in the number of men who see a doctor for preventive care, and that’s primarily due to more insurance companies covering the cost of annual checkups,” said Andrew Maes, DO, urologist at ThedaCare Physicians-Berlin. “For the most part, men don’t see a provider until disease has progressed, and sometimes, it’s too late to slow or reverse any damage done.”

Dr. Maes said men need to look at doctors more like their coaches. 

“Physicians understand what it takes to be healthy,” Dr. Maes said. “We’re the experts on diet, exercise and helping men understand their numbers, such as blood pressure and glucose levels, which are important to overall health. Men respect sports coaches and the advice they give. If men see doctors in the same way, they would be more likely to visit with them regularly to prevent disease and maintain good health.” 

A physical exam is recommended every year or so throughout a man’s lifetime. In addition to getting blood work done to check for cholesterol and diabetes, physicians will ask about depression, diet and exercise habits as well as alcohol and tobacco use – all important to gauge healthy living. Annual exams also include updates on immunizations like the tetanus-diphtheria booster (needed every 10 years) and the flu shot. 

Once a man reaches age 45, Dr. Maes emphasizes important additional screenings men should consider, even if they feel fine. 

  • Colorectal cancer screening – men should be tested between the ages of 45 and 75, especially if they have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps or risk factors such as inflammatory bowel disease. Options range from a stool-based test, which should be done every year to a colonoscopy, to be done every 10 years.
  • Lung cancer screening – men between the ages of 55 to 80 years who currently smoke, have a history of heavy smoking or quit within the past 15 years are encouraged to be tested through a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).
  • Osteoporosis screening – men between the ages 50 and 70 at-risk, who have history of long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis.
  • Prostate/Testicular cancer screenings – men age 50 or older should speak with their provider about these screenings, including routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing and digital rectal exam (DRE), especially African American men and those with a family history or other high-risk factors for prostate cancer.  

The National Institute of Health has a detailed list of the screening guidelines for men ages 18 to 39 and then ages 40 to 64. Dr. Maes says men should talk through these screening options with their primary care physician to see which ones are necessary for them.

For many men over age 50, an enlarged prostate might be an issue causing urine issues such as frequent or urgent episodes. 

“Once cancer is ruled out, men have many effective treatment options,” said Dr. Maes. “Men don’t need to suffer with the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, if they’re willing to be coached by a specialist. We are here to help and review all the options with men.” 

ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin has been named a Center of Excellence by Urolift, a technology that treats the condition, helping men avoid traditional surgery and end ongoing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) medications, many that come with side effects. 

“We’re excited to offer this treatment option to our patients,” Dr. Maes noted. “It works best when we can intervene early. Our men prefer it and they recommend it to others faced with an enlarged prostate, so it’s good these men are addressing their urination concerns sooner rather than later.” 

Dr. Maes also is pleased more men are openly talking about mental health issues and health providers are working more diligently to address treatment option for them. 

“It’s good that healthcare is demystifying mental health disorders and more people are talking about them,” he said. “Statistics show that a person’s mental health has the greatest impact on the life and longevity of a man. It impacts their quality of life more than any other health condition.”

Dr. Maes believes if men approach their physician for healthy advice, like they do a coach, they can live a long and healthy life. 

“Coaches do all they can to protect their team from illness or injury, and they talk through how to stay healthy while in practice and on game day,” he said. “Doctors do the same. Men just need to be open to a little coaching by physicians during regular checkups and when hearing screening reports to prevent disease.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.