Are Preventive Screenings Key For Men, Too?

Yes! As we continue our work to ensure women are getting their preventive health screenings (such as routine mammograms based on their age and risk), it is equally important that men get their preventive health screenings as well. Research shows that men “do not see physicians for a physical exam nearly as often as women” and “men are more likely to be uninsured than women.” With Fathers’ Day approaching, the men in our lives are on our mind and that’s part of why June has been declared Men’s Health Month. Here are some important preventive tips for all you men out there. As with all general health advice, please check with your Primary Care provider about what is right for you.

A routine physical exam is important to establish a baseline of your health and monitor or address any changes. While many young men may only need a full physical every two to three years, an annual physical with your Primary Care provider is recommended every year after the age of 50.

Given concerns about high blood pressure and its status as a contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, and other issues, men should have a blood pressure check at least once a year. Remember, hypertension (high blood pressure) has no symptoms, so just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you can skip this quick and easy check.

Based on age and risk, an EKG (electrocardiogram) is an important test for heart abnormalities. Your Primary Care provider can help you with when to have a baseline established and how often it should be checked thereafter.

Men should speak to their physician or advanced practice provider about what is right for them regarding prostate health. More than 30,000 men die each year from prostate cancer which is so unfortunate because it is detectable and treatable. A physical exam of the prostate is possible and there is a blood test that your provider may recommend as well.

Colon cancer is another detectable and treatable condition that men should be very attentive to, as it can be deadly when ignored. There are “hemoccult” stool tests which can detect microscopic amounts of blood that can be the first indications of polyps or colon cancer. Colonoscopy is a very important screening, generally beginning at age 50, as it can detect polyps before they become cancerous and cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages.

Physical self exams are also important for men. Knowing your body helps you identify changes that might be concerning and should be discussed with your physician or advance practice provider. A self exam of testicles can find lumps in their earliest stages, which is key to addressing testicular cancer. Watching for changes to moles or freckles can give early warning for possible skin cancer. Checking for lesions in your mouth can help identify oral cancer. And remember, breast cancer is not just for women. If you have an abnormal lump in your breast, speak to your Primary Care provider.

These are just some of the important preventive health steps that men can take to help ensure their good health continues and that if anything concerning does develop, it is detected early and addressed promptly. That’s key to a longer, healthier, more enjoyable life with lower healthcare costs! So, all you men out there, invest in yourself and give a gift to those who love you. Schedule your physical exam with your physician or advance practice provider. Get the screenings you need. While you’re at it, visitwww.risevt.com to join the local excitement around adopting and enjoying healthy habits. Can you achieve Bronze, Silver or Gold on a RiseVT scorecard? Take a look! And Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads out there!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer