Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. These tests can save your life.
Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about testing for the conditions below. Talk to your doctor about which ones apply to you and when and how often you should be tested.
- Prostate Health
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Colorectal Cancer
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Recommended Screening Tests By Age
- Screening Test Checklist
- Should You Take Medicines to Prevent Disease?
Being overweight or obese can damage your health. It increases your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, many cancers and can lead to many other health problems.
Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
If you are found to be overweight or obese, discuss what you can do to reduce your weight with your doctor.
Check Yourself to Start
Excess weight increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Your body mass index (BMI) measures your body fat based on your height and weight, and can determine obesity.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a BMI between 18.5 and 25 is within normal range.
High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and heart disease.
Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if:
- You have diabetes.
- You have high blood pressure.
- Heart disease runs in your family.
- You smoke.
Know Your Good and Bad
If you’re 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked every five years. You’ll need earlier screening (age 20 if you have risk factors like diabetes, smoking, or BMI over 30), or more frequent testing if your cholesterol is high.
A small blood sample drawn from your arm is used to measure your total cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Cholesterol test results are shown in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy total cholesterol goal should be below 200 mg/dL (AHA, 2012).
High Blood Pressure
According to recent estimates, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have it.
In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.”
The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
Look into Your Lipids
High triglycerides are associated with metabolic syndrome, which increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The same blood draw used to measure your cholesterol provides a reading of your triglycerides, a type of fat.
An optimal triglyceride level is less than 100 mg/dL, although levels below 150 mg/dL are considered normal (AHA, 2012).
Keep Tabs on Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure may require medication to control it and to ward off heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke. If you’re within normal range, you only need to strap on the blood pressure cuff every two years (HHS, 2012).
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg (AHA, 2012).
Colorectal cancer when detected early can be very effectively treated. Getting screened can save your life.
Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in U.S. men and women (ACS, 2012).
If you’ve feted your 50th birthday and haven’t been screened for colorectal cancer, it’s time. You should get screened earlier if colorectal cancer runs in your family.
Don’t worry: a colonoscopy is painless and takes only 15 to 20 minutes. Even better, this test can detect colon cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
Your doctor can find and remove precancerous growths before they become malignant.
Diabetes can increase your risk for blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, nervous system damage and amputation of a limb. Nearly one third of those with diabetes don’t know they have it.
Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you are a member of one of these ethnic groups, you need to pay special attention to this test.
Most adults get pre-diabetes before they get diabetes. The good news is that the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of adult diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.
Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Blood pressure higher than 135/80 mm Hg may be a symptom of diabetes. Testing for diabetes may include a hemoglobin A1C blood test, a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
A single test is insufficient to diagnose diabetes. A second test must confirm that blood your glucose level is abnormally high.
Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt “down,” sad, or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed.
Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.
Forget the Stiff Upper Lip
Although depression occurs twice as often in women as it does in men according to the Department of Health and Human Services, men are susceptible to it too (HHS, 2012).
Feeling hopeless or experiencing loss of interest in things you normally enjoy for more than two weeks may signal depression.
Don’t dismiss prolonged bouts of feeling down or try to tough it out. Your doctor can screen you for depression and help determine how to treat it: with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia or other sexually transmitted diseases.
If you are having unprotected sex with anyone other than a long term monogamous partner or if you suspect your partner is not monogamous and you are having unprotected sex with them, you should ask your doctor about getting tested.
Talk to your doctor about HIV screening if you:
- Have had unprotected sex with anyone other than a long term monogamous partner.
- Suspect your partner is not monogamous and you have had unprotected sex with them
- Are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
- Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
- Have had sex with men since 1975.
- Have used or now use injection drugs.
- Exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
- Have past or present sex partners who are HIV-infected, are bisexual or use injection drugs.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm is a widening of a blood vessel. The aorta is one of the large blood vessels that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
So an aortic aneurysm is a widening of this particular important blood vessel – a little like a bulge on an old tire. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are most common after age 60. Males are 5 times more likely than females to be affected.
This means men over 60 are at highest risk to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Approximately 5% of men over age 60 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm is a catastrophe. It is highly lethal and is usually preceded by excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back, with tenderness of the aneurysm.
Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm causes profuse bleeding and leads to shock. Death may rapidly follow. Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within 5 years.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S. But an aortic aneurysm can be treated by surgery and so detection can save your life.
If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked (100 or more cigarettes during your lifetime), you need to be screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in your abdomen.
Recommended Screening Tests By Age
The following chart lists recommended screenings and immunizations for men at average risk for most diseases. These are guidelines only.
Your health care provider will personalize the timing of each test and immunization to best meet your health care needs.
Other Tests for Men
Current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations say that risks of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test outweigh the benefits (USPSTF, 2012).
False positive results lead to too many unnecessary biopsies. Talk with your doctor about your risks for prostate cancer, and whether a digital rectal exam (DRE) should be part of your physical.
You should also talk with your doctor about whether testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is appropriate for you.