11 routine screening tests that can save a man's life

Without regular routine health screenings, many men may be missing out on catching problems before they become major health threats. And let’s face it, we’re just not always as good as our female counterparts at keeping up with regular doctor appointments.

The American Academy of Family Physicians conducted a survey and found that 55 percent of men had not seen their doctor for a physical exam in the previous year even though 40 percent had at least one chronic condition. Men would just as soon wait until they are almost on their deathbed before seeking help.

Ideally, none of us would let noticeable physical or mental health changes overtake our lives and ruin our health— that’s why routine screening tests are so important. These tests look to see whether you have a condition or are at risk of developing one and can help your doctors provide appropriate medical care, if necessary. If they don’t find anything, you can breathe a sigh of relief— and keep taking good care of yourself until your next routine screenings.

Talk to your doctor about the following screening tests to find out which are important for you to undergo:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the wall of the aorta, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body, has stretched and is bulging.  It if bursts, it can cause serious bleeding, quickly leading to death. A doctor may recommend a screening test for this if a man is between the ages of 65 to 75 and has ever smoked or is at least 60 years old and has a first-degree relative (father or brother) who has had an aneurysm.

Blood Pressure Testing

If a man has had normal blood pressure (120/80 or lower), he can be tested at least every two years.  If it has been elevated or he is at an increased risk for a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes, he should have it tested yearly.

Cholesterol test

Every five years a man should have a blood test to check his cholesterol, unless he has risk factors for heart disease in which his doctor may want him to have it checked more frequently.

Colorectal screening

Starting at age 50, a man should be tested for the risk of colon cancer. If he has a family history of the disease, he should start colorectal screenings even earlier.  There are three ways to check this – one is an annual fecal occult blood test; a second is to do a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years; or third, to do a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Diabetes screening

All men between ages 40 to 70 who are overweight to obese, who have a family history of diabetes, or have risk factors for heart disease or has high blood pressure (higher than 135/80), should be tested.

Hepatitis B virus testing

Any man who has had unprotected sex with multiple partners, shared needles during intravenous drug use, has sex with men, is exposed regularly to human blood, lives with someone who has chronic hepatitis B, or travels to areas with high rates of hepatitis B virus infection should be tested routinely.

Hepatitis C virus testing

Any man who had a blood transfusion or received a transplanted organ before June 1992, or is a healthcare worker who has been stuck by a needle, or has ever used injected drugs, is at an increased risk for this virus and should be tested regularly.

Lung cancer screening

Men who are or ever were smokers should be screened annually for lung cancer.  A low-dose CT scan can be used in adults ages 55 to 80 years old.

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test

Beginning at age 40, all men should have their first baseline PSA test conducted.  Depending on the results, his doctor can determine how frequently a man should be tested thereafter.

Sexually transmitted infection tests

Men who are having or have had unprotected sex with anyone whose health history they’re unaware should be regularly tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Screening for healthy body weight

All men should have their weight and height checked at least every two years to determine their body mass index (BMI).