A survey of the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 55 percent of men responding had not seen their doctor for a physical exam in the previous year, even though 40 percent of them had at least one chronic condition.
The survey further notes that one-fifth of men ages 55 and over have never undergone screening for colon cancer. Almost 30 percent say they “wait as long as possible” to seek medical attention when they are feeling sick or in pain.
It is important for men to be proactive about their health rather than waiting or skipping screenings. Some health issues, such as testicular cancer, only happen to men, while others, such as colorectal cancer, tend to happen more to men than women.
Now would be a good time for men to set a resolution of getting healthy and peace of mind by being proactive about their health.
Harvard Medical School advises the following screenings for men:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Mayo Clinic defines Abdominal aortic aneurysm as an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta, the major vessel that supplies blood to the body.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms often grow slowly without symptoms, making them difficult to notice. There are some signs of abdominal aortic aneurysm to look for, including deep, constant pain in your abdomen or on the side of your abdomen; back pain; and a pulse near your belly button. Men develop abdominal aortic aneurysms much more often than women do, Mayo Clinic said.
It is recommended that a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm by ultrasonography is done in men ages 65 to 75 years who have never smoked. This screening is available through MyChoice Health Checks, a menu of low-cost health screenings available for patients. This screening, as well as other screenings available through MyChoice, are performed at Trinity Health’s Advanced Imaging Center, located at Trinity Health Town & Country, 831 S Broadway, Minot. For more information, speak with your primary care provider. To schedule a screening, call Trinity Health’s Imaging Scheduling Line at 701-857-3220.
Blood pressure testing
About 75 million people, or one in three adults, in the United States have high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 54 percent have it under control. While uncontrolled high blood pressure is common, men are shown to more likely have high blood pressure than women.
If you have a normal blood pressure – that is 120/80 or below – blood pressure should be tested at least every two years. However, if blood pressure is elevated or if there is an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, such as smoking or diabetes, it should be checked at least once per year. If you have hypertension, or if your blood pressure is elevated, please consult your primary care provider for further guidance on how to lower it.
Ways to control blood pressure are to lose weight, eat a diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables, reduce salt, be active, and decrease alcohol.
More than 102 million American adults (20 years of age and older) have total cholesterol levels at or above the healthy levels, while more than 35 million have higher levels. When a person has too much cholesterol, it leads to a condition called hyperlipidemia, explained Ginger Strand, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant with Trinity Health Family Medicine. “The result of having too much cholesterol will put you at a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems. The higher your cholesterol or types of cholesterol, the higher your risk for these problems.”
Cholesterol levels should be checked every five years. However, if there are risk factors for heart disease, speak with your primary care provider on whether testing should be done more frequently.
Excluding skin cancers, the American Cancer Society says that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, with men have a slightly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than women. Men between the ages of 50 and 75 should be tested either by fecal occult blood test on an annual basis; flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years; or colonoscopy every 10 years. After the age of 75, the need for continued screening should be discussed with primary care provider.
Colorectal cancer can show symptoms, such as bleeding, pain, or an increase or decrease in bowel movements. Blood can be seen in the stool or make it look darker. If you show signs of colon or rectal cancer, and/or would like to schedule a colonoscopy, contact your local gastroenterologist. Patients will need a referral and an order for a colonoscopy from their primary care provider. Patients should also check their insurance to see if colonoscopies are covered.
Trinity Health Gastroenterology includes Ira Paul Michaelson, MD, Bonnie Ler, FNP-C, and Kristy Leier, FNP. Their offices are located on the fifth floor of the Medical Office Building, 2305 37th Ave SW, Minot. For appointments or consultations, please call 701-418-7560.
Men who are between the ages of 40 to 70 and are overweight or obese should be tested. If you have risk factors for type 2 diabetes or heart disease, or if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80, or if you use medication to control blood pressure, speak with your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested and how often.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend making an appointment for a blood sugar screening to determine diabetes or prediabetes.
The Trinity Health Center for Diabetes Education is located at Trinity Health Town & Country, 1015 S Broadway, Ste 2, Minot. For more information, call 701-857-5268.
Hepatitis B and C virus testing
Men at increased risk for hepatitis B should be tested regularly. The risk is increased if you have had unprotected sex with multiple partners, have shared needles during intravenous drug use, have sex with other men, are exposed regularly to human blood (such as medical workers), live with someone who has chronic hepatitis B virus infection, or travel to regions with high rates of hepatitis B virus infection.
Men at increased risk for hepatitis C should be tested regularly (discuss how often with your doctor). Risk is increased if you have had blood (or blood product) transfusions or received a transplanted organ before June 1992, are a healthcare worker who may have been stuck by a needle, or have ever used injected drugs, even just once many years ago.
Testing for the Hepatitis B and/or C virus begins with your primary care provider, who does the initial blood work, explained Kathy Hochsprung, RN, a nurse with Trinity Health Infectious Disease. If the labs are reactive, the patient is then referred to Infectious Disease, who will finish the testing.
Men who have had unprotected sex with a partner whose health history they do not know should be tested for syphilis (or other sexually transmitted diseases, if your doctor thinks you may be at risk).
Trinity Health’s Infectious Disease providers Casmiar Nwaigwe, MD, and Bryan Phillips, PA-C, are based at the Medical Office Building, 2305 37th Ave SW, Minot. For an appointment or consultation, please call 701-418-7271.
Annual screening for lung cancer with a low-dose CT scan is recommended for adults between the ages of 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history (that is, they smoked one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years, etc.) and who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
Patients interested in being screened should speak to their primary care provider or call Trinity Health’s Pulmonology Clinic at 701-418-7280.
Weight and height screening
The combination of weight and height determine the body mass index, or BMI, the most widely used measure of overweight. Weight should be measured annually, and height once every 10 years past the age of 50. Consult with your primary care provider at your next appointment about this screening.