Preventative screening and testing key to good health
June is a special month in the calendar year. It marks the end of the school year, which brings the joy of summer vacations, barbeques and family trips.
Dads and granddads, along with their sons and grandsons, are busy celebrating Father’s Day with their families and preparing for a summer filled with activities and memories.
June also should be a time to take a moment to evaluate the health of these important individuals, as this is the month when men’s health issues take center stage.
As the title indicates, Men’s Health Month is an appropriate time for men to conduct adult preventative screening and testing. It’s equally important to educate the younger men and boys in our families about the significance of overall health and wellness.
Studies have shown that men have a shorter life span than women, and that men are at a greater risk of heart disease than women.
In fact, men lead women in all categories of causes of death, so it is only fitting that some time is spent in investing in the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Prostate cancer is easily screened in men. An annual check-up with a lab test for a PSA level is the first and easiest way to be screened for this type of cancer.
Men with strong family histories of this disease should consult with their physician at an earlier age, but more and more men are detecting treatable abnormalities in their prostates before any signs of cancer appear. The sooner you have this discussion with your doctor, the better off you will be.
Additionally, colon cancer screenings should start at age 50. While a colonoscopy is still considered to be the gold standard in screening for colon cancer, the prospect of having this test tends to push people away — men and women alike!
But have no fear, as there are other ways to screen for colon cancer, through either a Fecal Occult test or through a Cologuard test. Both of these are non-invasive and prove to be adequate screening tools in the fight towards early detection of what is a very treatable form of cancer when detected early enough.
So, tell your dad (and mom!) to talk to their doctor about colon cancer screening.
A matter of ‘Heart’
Heart disease screening also is woefully underrepresented in men. Men are at higher risk to develop heart disease, and screening can be as simple as coming in for a physical, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and getting your cholesterol checked.
While other risk factors also exist — such as tobacco abuse, obesity, inactivity and diabetes — a check-up is the first step to address this most common cause of death.
In the end, all of these tests and screenings require an actual visit to the doctor.
It is no secret that men are reticent to find their way to their physician’s office for their annual physical.
Make an appointment
It is important to emphasize healthy eating and regular exercise at a young age, but it is equally important for males to get into the habit of seeing their physician as a partner in their life’s journey instead of an occasional speed bump.
Regular check-ups allow for monitoring and surveillance; detection of blood pressure anomalies that are often asymptomatic; and implementation of immunizations which help protect our immune system as we get older.
Just like a car needs regular maintenance and check-ups, refilling of vital fluids and replacing of necessary parts, so do the men in our lives need to bring themselves in to make sure that they are good for the next 3,000 miles, and beyond!