Why Screening Tests Are soo Important
Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you having any kind of symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. With early detection, colon cancer can be diagnosed in early stage. Finding diabetes early may help prevent many complications such as sensation loss or vision loss. The tests you need are based on your age and risk factors.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.
Tests for Prostate Cancer
Screenings for healthy men prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The American Cancer Society advises each man to talk with a doctor about the risks and possible benefits of the PSA test. Discussions should begin at:
- 50 for average-risk men.
- 45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans.
- 40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer.
This uncommon cancer develops in a man’s testicles, the reproductive glands that produce sperm. Most cases occur between ages 20 and 54. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Men at higher risk (a family history) should talk with a doctor about additional screening. Many doctors advise regular self-exams too.
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: small growths on the inner surface of the colon. After cancer develops, it can invade or spread to other parts of the body. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove polyps before they turn cancerous.
Tests for Colon Cancer
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test. A similar alternative is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that examines only the lower part of the colon.
Some patients opt for a virtual colonoscopy — a CT scan — or double contrast barium enema — a special X-ray — although if polyps are detected, an actual colonoscopy is needed to remove them.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm — dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it.
Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings gives us 2 digits. The systolic is the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats. The diastolic is the pressure between the heartbeats. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and in between those two is prehypertension — a major milestone on the road to high blood pressure. How often blood pressure should be checked depends on how high it is and what other risk factors you have.
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries. It increases your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis — hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes and medicines can reduce this worse type cholesterol and lower the risk of any heart disease.
Determining Cholesterol Levels
The fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that tells your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). The results tell you and your doctor a lot about what you need to do to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Starting at age 20, men should be screened if they are at increased risk for heart disease. Starting at 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.
Screening for Type 2 Diabetes
A fasting blood sugar test (FBS), glucose tolerance test, all can be used alone or together to screen for diabetes. Healthy adults should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you have a higher risk, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may start testing earlier and more frequently.
HIV Screening Tests
HIV-infected individuals can remain symptom-free for many years. The only way to know they are infected is with a series of blood tests. The first test is called ELISA. It looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood. It’s possible not to be infected and still show positive on the test. So a second test called a Western blot assay is done for confirmation. If you were recently infected, you could still have a negative test result. Repeat testing is recommended. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, ask your doctor about the tests.