We know that men are less likely than women to ask for directions. But men may also be less likely to routinely visit their primary care physician. In general, men tend to lead less healthy lifestyles than women. They’re more apt to smoke, drink alcohol, and more likely to be overweight. Unfortunately, men are also more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.
The irony is that men have even more to gain than women by taking steps to prevent future health problems. The average life expectancy for U.S. males is five years shorter than for females. Though some of that disparity is attributed to biology, there are many things men can do that can protect their health.
At the top of the list? Getting regular checkups and screenings.
“It’s often difficult to convince patients that screening tests are a necessity when they are feeling well,” says Abdel-Wahab Meri, MD, a Crittenton internist. “I like to sit down and explain in detail to my patients the reasoning behind each screening test and how it can save their life. Typically, there are no warning signs for many diseases and only screening can change the outcome.”
When health problems are found early, there’s a better chance of successful treatment. For example, when colorectal cancer is found and treated early, 90 percent of patients are still alive five years later. So if it’s been more than a year since your last checkup, call your primary care physician to schedule one. At the very least, you’ll be reassured to learn that all is well. At most, you might be taking a step today that helps you stay healthier for years to come.
Are you one of over 17% of men or 10% of women who don’t have a primary care doctor? Let us help you find one.
Screenings Men Need
- Heart disease
- Blood pressure test – All men, at least every 2 years
- Cholesterol test
- Starting at age 35, at least every 5 years. Before age 35, discuss with your provider.
- Blood sugar test – All men, discuss with your provider
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Various tests, including HIV – All men, discuss with your provider
- Colorectal cancer
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – Starting at age 50, every 5 years if you’re not having a colonoscopy
- Double contrast barium enema (DCBE)
- Starting at age 50, every 5 to 10 years if you’re not having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
- Starting at age 50, every 10 years
- Fecal occult blood test
- Starting at age 50, every year if a colonoscopy is done every 10 years. Before age 50, discuss with your provider.
- Prostate cancer
- Digital rectal exam
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
- Starting at age 50, discuss the advantages and limitations of prostate cancer screening with your provider. Men with a high risk should begin discussions at age 45.