Newswise — When it’s comes men and health, the numbers don’t stack up. Compared to women, men are 24 percent less likely than women to visit the doctor, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Yet, men are 28 percent more likely than women to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure and 32 percent more likely to receive care for complication of diabetes.
June is National Men’s Health Month. It’s the ideal time for men to make health a priority by scheduling regular check-ups and receiving health screening tests.
“Unfortunately, prostate, colon, and skin cancer are common among men, as well as heart disease and diabetes but the good news is that they are very amenable to screening,” says pathologist and men’s health expert, Thomas Wheeler, MD, FCAP, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology& Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. “Knowing the facts about these diseases and the screening guidelines can help men prevent or detect these diseases early, when they are the most treatable or before complications set in.”
Dr. Wheeler weighs in on prostate cancer screening, among the six essential screening tests all men should receive during their lifetime.
1. Prostate Cancer Screening Test
The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test was developed to help detect prostate cancer in men; however, some in the medical community have questioned whether routine screening leads to more harm than good. This controversy among experts, on whether or not to treat prostate cancer, has confused the public and caused some men to forego screening. Men, starting at age 50, should speak with their physicians about the pros and cons of screening. For those in high-risk categories, this conversation should begin at age 45.
“As a pathologist, I recommend that men receive a digital rectal examination as an integral part of their physical examination whether or not they chose to be screened with a serum PSA."
2. Blood Pressure Test
It’s a simple and painless test that could save a man’s life. It is known as the “silent killer” because there are usually no symptoms of high blood pressure. Often, simple diet changes and regular exercise can lower blood pressure levels, but if not, the medications to control blood pressure are well tolerated and relatively inexpensive.
3. Cholesterol Test
A cholesterol test also is a simple screening test and is recommended for men at least every five years, or yearly if abnormal.
4. Colon Cancer Screening
Colon Cancer is the third most common cancer in Americans. Beginning at age 50, men should be screened for pre-cancerous polyps and colon cancer with testing that may include the fecal occult blood test, digital rectal examination, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.
5. Skin Cancer Check
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States. Limiting sun exposure and receiving regular check-ups can help men avoid this common cancer as well as the more uncommon but potentially deadly melanoma skin cancer.
6. Diabetes Test
Men 45 years and older should be tested for type 2 diabetes every three years. Common screening blood tests are fasting glucose and Hemoglobin A1c. Diabetes can be detected early in the disease course before complications of more advanced disease set in.
“Regular check-ups and cancer screenings are simple steps men can take to live healthier lives,” said Dr. Wheeler. “
Pathologists are board-certified physicians who use laboratory medicine to identify and diagnose disease. Sometimes called the “doctor’s doctor,” pathologists work with primary care physicians and others on the patient care team to guide treatment plans. In fact, more than 70 percent of all decisions about diagnosis, treatment, hospital admission, and discharge rest on the pathologist's report.
About the College of American Pathologists
As the leading organization with more than 18,000 board-certified pathologists, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. The CAP’s Laboratory Improvement Programs, initiated 65 years ago, currently has customers in more than 100 countries, accrediting 7,600 laboratories and providing proficiency testing to 20,000 laboratories worldwide. Find more information about the CAP at cap.org. Follow CAP on Twitter: @pathologists.