August 08, 2019
Maintaining good health is a full time job at every age as we try our best
to eat right, exercise and take preventive measures to protect against
disease. At milestone ages like 50, though, there are certain health
screenings we should add to our checkup list to alert us to potential
problems percolating inside our bodies.
Men are less likely to go to annual checkups so it is especially important for them to be aware of these health screenings. Harvard Health tells us that “nearly one-fifth of men ages 55 and over said they had never undergone screening for colon cancer, and almost 30 percent said they ‘wait as long as possible’ to seek medical attention when they are feeling sick or in pain.”
Experts recommend that men starting at age 50 up to about 75 years of age should get colorectal screenings. There are a few options available to discuss with your doctor, including checking a stool sample for blood on an annual basis, a flexible sigmoidoscopy that looks just at the lower colon every five years, or a colonoscopy every 10 years.
There has been some controversy over who should get the prostate-specific antigen test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. Originally created to monitor disease progress in men who had prostate cancer, it was then recommended for a while as a screening test starting at the age of 50 to detect prostate cancer early before symptoms developed.
The concern though is that while an elevated PSA number could suggest the presence of cancer, there are other reasons the numbers might go up as well.
According to the National Cancer Institute, a number of medical organizations began to caution against routine prostate cancer screening as its benefits and harms became better understood.
Today, it is recommended that all men talk to their doctor first about the pros and cons of being tested.
If you are considered at high risk for other diseases, then you should also get tested regularly for them. For instance, both men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 years of age who are smokers or who had quit within the last 15 years are encouraged to be screened for lung cancer every year.
Those with risk factors for osteoporosis, like rheumatoid arthritis, smoking or a history of corticosteroid use, should schedule regular bone scans.
At-risk groups should also have routine screenings for diabetes, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and your primary doctor should be monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure at annual wellness visits.
To protect against skin cancer, you should also check your skin every 3 months for worrisome lesions.
Talk to your doctor about what screenings and tests you are due for at your next visit.