Tests you need, at every age
By Cliff Mehrtens
Many men delay or avoid visiting their doctor for an annual checkup. It’s a simple, essential step to maintain health, but men skip for a variety of reasons.
Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to visit a doctor for routine examinations. Their woman-wellness exams usually begin between ages 13 to 15, and continue annually.
Men, in many cases, finish their immunizations as grade-schoolers and avoid a doctor unless it’s an emergency situation. That inactivity can stretch for decades.
“We’re trying to change that narrative,” said Dr. Carmen Robinson, a physician at Novant Health Clemmons Family Medicine. “If you get sick, we want to get you better. But if we can prevent people from getting sick in the first place, that’s ideal.”
Robinson suggests a basic checklist of screenings that all men should have. Almost all of them can be done during an annual physical exam.
During your 20s and 30s
“It’s a good time to catch things before they become difficult to treat,” Robinson said. “You want to do it before those things turn into larger problems.”
- Weight check
- Blood pressure check
- Cholesterol check
- HIV screening
- Syphilis screening
- Depression screening
- Alcohol, smoking and substance abuse screening
During your 40s
- All of the same screenings you had during your 20s and 30s.
- Diabetes screening
- Colorectal cancer screening
NOTE: Every man should be screened (through a colonoscopy) beginning at 50. But if you have any family history of colorectal cancer, your first screening should be 10 years younger than the age your relative was diagnosed. Example: If your father was diagnosed when he was 52, you should begin screenings at 42.
During your 50s
- All of the same screenings you had through your 40s
- Prostate cancer screening
Note: The prostate cancer test was formerly given to all men at 40, but that has changed. The caveats: Get screened earlier than 50 if you have a primary relative with cancer, if you have erectile dysfunction symptoms, problems with urination or if you just want to get the screening.
- Hepatitis C screening
NOTE: If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you need a one-time Hepatitis C screening.
- Lung cancer screening
Note: Men ages 55 to 80 are screened if they have a 30 pack-year smoking history (one pack-year equals smoking 20 cigarettes a day for one year), if you still smoke or if you’ve quit during the past 15 years. The test is a low-dose CT scan of your lungs.
- Colorectal cancer screening
During your 60s and 70s
- All of the same screenings you had through your 50s
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening
Note: Men ages 65 to 75, if they’ve ever smoked, should be screened for an AAA (it’s via ultrasound).
- “Falls” prevention screening. Note: During your annual physical exam beginning at age 65, you’re asked questions about whether you’ve fallen, the frequency and level of injury, if any.
“It’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of masculinity to go to your doctor,” Robinson said. “Take care of yourself. Set an example for your family and your children.”