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7 screening tests that help men stay healthy

Screening tests can catch serious diseases in very early stages, before they do major damage to your health.

You might think of the doctor's office as some place you go when you're sick, but it's important to have an occasional visit when you're well too.

All men should have a few routine screening tests. These tests can help catch health problems early, before they've progressed enough to cause problems. Treatment in these early stages is most likely to be more effective.

The most common tests for men

You can get screened for lots of health conditions, but most men only need screening for a few. The health conditions you need screening for, and how frequently you should be screened, varies according to your health and risk factors. The following tests are recommended for most men:

1. Blood pressure tests. Keeping your blood pressure at safe levels will reduce your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of men in the U.S. A number of health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, recommend blood pressure checks at least every two years and more often if it is high. 

2. Cholesterol screening. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends cholesterol checks once every five years starting at age 20.

3. Colorectal cancer screening. Regular screening for this cancer should start at age 50, and maybe sooner if you're at high risk.  Your doctor can help you decide on the best type of screening test for you.

4. Prostate exams. The prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal examination (DRE) can uncover prostate cancer at a very early stage. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends talking to your doctor about this screening when you turn 50 years old. Men at high risk, such as African-American men and men with a close family member who had prostate cancer at an early age, the ACS recommends the discussion with their doctor start at age 45 or earlier.

5. Blood glucose testing. All men age 45 and older should think about getting screened for diabetes. A simple blood test can reveal if you have diabetes or its precursor, prediabetes. Identifying and treating these conditions in their early stages helps prevent serious damage to organs all over the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, this test is even more important for men with risk factors such as a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or high body weight. You're also at higher risk if your family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic.

6. Skin exams. The ACS recommends monthly self-exams to look for growths or changes that could be skin cancer. Signs to look for include any type of change in a mole or freckle, or a growth with uneven colors, borders or shape, or that is larger than a pencil eraser. Check your whole body, head to toe, and consult your doctor about anything suspicious.

7. Depression screening. If you've felt down, hopeless, or uninterested in the things you usually enjoy, it's important to talk to your doctor. If you feel this way for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing a bout of depression. Depression is treatable and should be part of everyone's regular healthcare, according to Mental Health America.

reviewed 6/12/2019

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This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.