Health screenings are tests that help detect diseases before displaying symptoms. Being able to find health conditions early tends to make them easier to treat and manage.
Men are encouraged to take these screenings to keep in the know of their health. Doing so can improve outcomes and even be lifesaving!
Men's Full Health Check
While all men are different and have varying needs, discuss these screenings with a doctor and take as recommended:
Obesity is a growing health concern in the United States, as 1 in 3 adults are considered obese.
This is based on body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat derived from height and weight (mass). BMIs are placed into different weight categories, including underweight, normal, overweight, and obese.
Those with a high BMI, especially a BMI of 30 or more, tend to be at greater risk of health problems. These often include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea.
BMI should be used as an annual screening tool and used in combo with other measurements, including those that measure body composition. These often include body fat percentage, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio.
Men are advised to keep waist circumferences under 40 inches. The ideal WHR for men is less than 0.9 according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Abnormal cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other health concerns. Risk factors include a family history, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and lifestyle choices.
Men are encouraged to get their cholesterol checked every five years. They may be recommended to take more frequently if at higher risk.
A lipid panel will include the two primary types of cholesterol lipoproteins, including low-density (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) lipoproteins. Total cholesterol and triglycerides are also included.
• Low-density (LDL) cholesterol: Also known as the "bad" cholesterol, LDL is related to plaque build-up in excess amounts. An optimal LDL range is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
• High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol due to its ability to remove "bad" cholesterol from artery walls. Men should keep HDL over 40 mg/dL, though HDL over 60 mg/dL or higher is better.
• Total cholesterol: Total cholesterol is a measurement of all cholesterol levels and used to determine the risk of heart disease. High cholesterol is more than 200 mg/dL.
• Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat carried through the bloodstream. They should be kept under 150 mg/dL.
Blood pressure (BP) measures the force of blood against the artery walls as the heart pumps it. Consistently high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can weaken and damage blood vessels. This, in turn, increases the risk of serious heart and health complications such as abdominal aortic aneurysm and stroke.
According to the American Heart Association, a higher percentage of men than women have high blood pressure until age 45. From ages 45 to 64, the percentage of men and women is similar. After that, a much higher percentage of women than men have high blood pressure.
Get blood pressure checking bi-annually if having a normal blood pressure, or 120/80 or below. Test at least once per year blood pressure is elevated or at increased risk for heart disease and stroke, including a family history of heart disease.
Type 2 Diabetes
Testing for high blood sugar is the prime diagnostic criteria for diagnosing diabetes. And if the increased risk of diabetes, monitoring blood sugars may be an early way to reduce exacerbated or uncontrolled diabetes.
Blood tests differentiate between normal, prediabetes, and diabetes blood glucose levels. Tests are marked in mg/dL unless noted otherwise:
1. Fasting Plasma Glucose Test: Fasting plasma glucose involves taking a blood sample and then measuring the free glucose in that sample. Individuals take this test in a fasted state or absent of food intake for eight hours. However, it is generally performed after an overnight fast.
• Normal: Less than 100, or encouraged to be within 70 and 100
• Prediabetes: 100 to 125
• Diabetes: Greater than 126
2. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT): The OGTT is used to determine how much sugar the body is able to process. This test is administered during a fasted state. The individual then consumes a sugary, glucose beverage then given a blood test after two hours.
• Normal: Less than 140
• Prediabetes: 140 to 199
• Diabetes: Greater than 200
3. Hemoglobin A1C: Hemoglobin A1C is also known as glycated hemoglobin, average blood sugar, and HbA1C. It is a blood test that measures average blood sugar for up to three months. The test can also indicate how well blood sugars were controlled over time.
• Normal: 5.6% or less
• Prediabetes: 5.7 to 6.4%
• Diabetes: 6.5% or greater on two separate occasions
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) should be screened for, which may depending on lifestyle and medical history.
Test for STDs once becoming sexually active, along with if or when changing sexual partners.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve caused by fluid buildup in the eye. It is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and accounts for nine to 12 percent of all cases of blindness.
To lower such risks, men should consult with an ophthalmologist to find out if screening is appropriate. If at high risk, have a dilated pupil exam at least every one to two years.
Male Cancer Screening Timeline
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, accounting for about 23 percent of deaths. While there is no cure, early detection and treatment can lead to improved outcomes.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends men get the following cancer screening tests based on age:
Ages 21 to 29: Colon Cancer
Men are at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer than women. The ACS reports 1 in 22 men will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime. This is slighter higher than a 1 in 24 risk for women.
Fortunately, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both genders for several decades. This is likely due to colorectal polyps being found more often through screening and removed before developing into cancers. Or, the polyps are found earlier when the disease is easier to treat.
• Age 21: Find out if at a higher than average risk for colon cancer due to family history, genetics, and other factors. If at an increased risk, talk to a doctor about screening recommendations.
• Age 45: All people at average risk should be tested. Talk with a doctor about which tests to take and the frequency of them.
Ages 40 to 64: Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, second to skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 164,690 new cases and 29,430 deaths of prostate cancer for the year 2018.
While the ACS reports most men do not die from prostate cancer, early screening can help dodge procedures and treatments.
• Age 40: Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at an even higher risk of prostate cancer. They should consult about testing at this age.
• Age 45: Men at higher than average risk should talk with a doctor about getting testing This includes African-American men and men with close family members (father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.
• Age 50: All men at average risk should talk with a health care provider regarding prostate screening.
Age 55 and Older: Lung Cancer
While prostate cancer is more common, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. It can occur at any age, though is mainly occurs in older people.
If 55 or older, talk to a health care provider about smoking history and whether screening is appropriate. Screening can even benefit those who are active or former smokers, have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history.
Men are at a risk of other cancers, including testicular cancer. However, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there is adequate evidence that the benefits of screening for testicular cancer are small to none. This is based on the lower incidence of the condition and favorable outcomes of treatment, even in cases of advanced disease.
Skin, bladder, pancreatic, and liver cancers are also common. But with any cancer and health condition, it is important to discuss and assess risks with a healthcare professional and react accordingly.