Many men do not take their health seriously and will avoid the doctor’s office at all costs. But this tendency, even when there are no symptoms indicating any problems, puts a man’s health at risk.
If that sounds like you, it’s important to change your approach to your health. Without good health, it is not possible to enjoy life’s pleasures.
A little planning can help you stay fit and healthy, and regular health checkups are a must.
Regular screenings and checkups help you stay healthy by allowing your doctor to pick up early warning signs of disease or illness.
For instance, being diagnosed in the early stages of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many cancers makes successful treatment possible.
With age, we are all more prone to illness. So, when you reach age 40, be serious about your health and make checkups and screenings part of your regular routine.
Here are 10 health screening tests or checkups that men should be sure to get after turning 40.
1. Skin Cancer Checks
Men, especially those with lighter skin and those who work outside, are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest kind.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention (CDC), 76,665 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin in 2014, including 45,402 men and 31,263 women. That same year, two out of three people who died from it were men .
The American Cancer Society recommends that you become aware of all moles and spots on your skin, and report any changes to a doctor right away .
You should check your moles and spots every three months using the “ABCDE rule,” which involves looking for the following characteristics: asymmetry, border irregularity, color that is not uniform, diameter greater than 6 mm, and evolving size, shape or color. If any of these characteristics appear or changes occur, it should be checked by a doctor.
Also, ask your doctor to check your skin, head to toe, during your yearly physical as part of regular preventive care.
2. Prostate Cancer Screening
Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. In fact, prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death due to cancer.
In 2014, 172,258 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 28,343 men died from it that year, according to the CDC .
Prostate cancer screenings make it possible to detect the cancer in its early stages, before symptoms are present. The American Cancer Society recommends that men above 50 years of age with one or more risk factors for prostate cancer get routine screenings .
Men whose father or brother has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, African-American men and men with a high testosterone level are more likely to suffer from prostate cancer.
Depending upon the risk factors, your doctor may screen for prostate cancer using the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. A digital rectal exam may also be done as a part of screening.
3. Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, and it is the third most common cancer in men and women in the U.S.
The CDC reports that in 2014, 139,992 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, including 73,396 men and 66,596 women .
The CDC recommends colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50 for both women and men.
Since the disease usually starts with growths called polyps in the colon, some screening exams are designed to find them before they turn into cancer. Some of the screening tests for colorectal cancer include a colonoscopy, a flexible sigmoidoscopy and fecal tests.
4. Blood Pressure Test
It is important to keep tabs on your blood pressure, as people can have high blood pressure for years without knowing it.
According to the American Heart Association, a higher percentage of men than women under age 45 have high blood pressure. From ages 45 to 64, the percentage of men and women is similar. After that, a much higher percentage of women than men have high blood pressure .
After reaching age 40, have your blood pressure checked once a year. If the top number (systolic number) is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg, then continue to have it checked every year as it could indicate Prehypertension.
If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor will probably want to check it more frequently. To keep high blood pressure under control, medication may be required to manage it and ward off heart disease, kidney disease and strokes.
5. Cholesterol Levels Test
High cholesterol puts men at greater risk for heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease. The World Health Organization reports that one-third of ischemic heart disease globally is attributable to high cholesterol .
High cholesterol usually does not cause symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels often.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol and other traditional risk factors checked every four to six years .
You may need your cholesterol and other risk factors assessed more often if you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
6. Blood Sugar Test
In diabetes, sugar levels in the blood go up, which can lead to health complications if left uncontrolled. Diabetes raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and can cause problems with your eyes, skin, kidneys and nervous system. Diabetes can also cause urological problems in men.
Everyone should have their blood sugar level tested every year, or every three years (depending on your risk factors for diabetes) after age 40.
Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, prediabetes (slightly elevated blood glucose levels), overweight or obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, and some ethnic backgrounds.
Tests for diabetes include a fasting blood sugar level test, which measures the amount of glucose in your blood after you haven’t eaten for a while. Those with diabetes should get three annual medical tests comprising HbA1c blood test, dilated eye exam, and foot exam.