Men: Don't Forget about Your PSA

The topic of men’s health may conjure a variety of topics when considered. Men have historically fallen significantly behind women in being proactive about health screenings that may prevent disease. With some basic information, men can become wiser health care consumers who understand that certain preventive health measures enable one to have a healthier life or potentially save their life.

Women clearly outpace men when it comes to preventive health screenings. Annually the great majority of women have a gynecological examination to test for cervical cancer. Conversely, men are not recommended to have colorectal cancer tests until the age of 50.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine who was well below the age of 50 died from complication from colorectal cancer. He told me he should have had both a colorectal and prostate screening but did not. He thought he was only dealing with stress. In fact, the stress symptoms of pain were related to a metastasizing cancer.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services produces some basic guidelines that suggest men seek examination at certain times in our lives. However, we should listen to our bodies and seek appropriate medical treatment should we feel pain that is abnormal or prolonged and we have not yet reached a suggested age for a particular health screening.

First and foremost, men should establish a relationship with a medial professional. Under most circumstances, a family medicine specialist will be the appropriate type of physician. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, when visiting your primary care physician the following are among the things you should be discussing with your doctor:

-have your cholesterol checked every five years starting at age 20.
-Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years.
-Have a test done for diabetes if you have hypertension or high cholesterol.
-Talk to your doctor about depression if you have been feeling down for at least two weeks straight.
-At age 50 at the latest, have a colorectal cancer test and a prostate cancer screening.

While going to your doctor for preventive health screenings will cost you money and money, the small investment in men’s preventive health care may ultimately save you a lot of money. As we see rising health insurance costs correlate to rising out of pocket expenses on insurance plans, preventing disease and illness is a modest cost compared to treating a disease or an illness.

Preventive health screenings would cost in the 100ss of dollars versus treating a disease costing in the 10’s of thousands of dollars.

If we take better care of ourselves through better nutrition stress management, exercising regularly, seeking regular preventive health screenings, loosing weight and tobacco cessation, we can live longer and healthier.

Had my friend considered these lifestyle changes he might still be with us. But he ignored some basic signs that he later said should have been signals to go to the doctor for cancer screenings. He told me this before he passed away and mentioned that I should tell this to all men. The opportunity to tell my friend’s story is one I feel he would want me to tell given this opportunity.

Men’s Health is a topic that often is taboo. Men are uncomfortable discussing colorectal examinations or other medical screenings. Women are much more comfortable regarding these matters as they have been involved in gynecological examinations typically since puberty.

Men must be more accountable for their health and begin a more proactive role with their primary care physician. If you do not have a relationship with a primary care physician, start one now!

Investing a little today in preventive health care could give you greater quality of life today and in to the future.

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