Yes, we mean you--not your car.
We know you probably don’t think it’s necessary to see a doctor unless you’re “dying”, (usually from a bad cold), but skipping out on regular checkups is a big reason why men are dying (for real) before women. The average life expectancy of men is 74.6 years vs. 79.6 years for women.
Research tells us what we already know about men. They are less likely to schedule preventive health screenings, tend to take more risks than females and are more reluctant to seek medical attention.
As a result, men are more likely to die from preventable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and HIV. They are also at a greater risk for accidents and committing suicide.
As we celebrate Men’s Health week, we hope to raise awareness of preventable health problems affecting men and encourage early detection and treatment through regular health checkups.
For all the wives, moms, girl friends and sisters who need a little help encouraging men to have a checkup, here’s some tips that may help you get your guy to see the doctor.
The Good News
The good news is that the days of “annual checkups” are all but gone for most men—unless you have a chronic health condition that is not under control.
Instead, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends the following list of tests that every man should have performed routinely—your doctor may add or remove some of these tests based on your medical history.
- Blood Pressure – starting at age 20 and every 3-5 years afterward
- Cholesterol – age 35 and up or in your 20s if you have other risk factors for heart disease
- Colorectal Cancer – age 50 and up
- Immunization – over age 50 a tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years. A pneumococcal vaccine is recommended once at age 65.
- Prostate Cancer – this screening is highly controversial as there is a high rate of false positives. Speak with your doctor about your specific risks for prostate cancer.
- Diabetes – adults who are overweight or have high blood pressure or cholesterol should also be screened for diabetes.
- Skin Cancer – in addition to regular self-exams, individuals who spend a great deal of time outdoors or have experienced repeated sunburns should see a dermatologist every 2 to 3 years.
- Testicular Cancer – a testicular exam should be part of a routine cancer-related checkup. Though rare, testicular cancer affects young men ages 20 – 39.
The goal of these exams is to catch early signs of the leading causes of death--heart disease, cancer and diabetes--when treatment is most effective.
One Last Tip
Establishing a relationship with a single physician you know and trust and who knows your medical history is the key to good care.
The most important consideration when choosing a primary care physician is how well you communicate with them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your doctor, choose a new one.
When you establish a strong relationship with your doctor, you are more likely to receive appropriate medication when you need it. You are also less likely to be subjected to needless and costly medical tests.
For more on men’s health, see “Men’s Health Myths Debunked!”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention