Health Screening Checklist for Men
Health screening tests are designed to help men identify illnesses early when action can be taken to prevent or minimize disease.
If saving your own life isn’t enough reason for you to get your scheduled screening tests, then think of your family or the money you can save the healthcare system by catching something early before expense, high-tech procedures are needed.
About Health Screening Tests for Men
This list of tests was developed by the USPSTF. They used all the available scientific information to find the tests that work best, provide the most prevention/treatment benefit and are easiest to do. Combine health screening tests with these guidelines for disease prevention and healthy living for the best result.
Talk to your doctor about which health screening tests apply to you and when and how often you should be tested. Be sure to set yourself up for success. Give yourself a reward for each test that you do, and make sure to keep good records of test results, dates and when you need the next test. (Use this sample checklist for health screening tests.)
You should calculate your body mass index (BMI). Simply take your weight (in pounds) divided by your height squared (in inches). Take that number and multiply it by 703. (An easier way to find your BMI is to use an online BMI calculator.)
If your BMI is greater than 25, then you are probably overweight (unless you lift lots of weights or do body-building exercises). If your BMI is above 30, then you are considered obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for many illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. You need to focus on losing weight.
According to the USPSTF: “The optimal interval for screening is uncertain. On the basis of other guidelines and expert opinion, reasonable options include every 5 years, shorter intervals for people who have lipid levels close to those warranting therapy, and longer intervals for those not at increased risk who have had repeatedly normal lipid levels.”
If you are younger than 35 and smoke or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease in your family, talk to your doctor about monitoring your cholesterol more closely. Cholesterol tests use a simple pinprick. Many workplaces, gyms, grocery stores and even malls offer periodic cholesterol screening days. Take advantage of those days, or just ask your doctor to do the test.
High Blood Pressure
The optimal interval for screening for hypertension is not known. The 2007 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines recommend screening every two years for persons with systolic blood pressure (top number) below 120 mHg and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) below 80 mmHg and yearly for persons with systolic blood pressure from 120 to 139 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure from 80 to 89 mmHg. If you get your pressure checked outside of your physician’s office (say, by using a machine at a drugstore), and your blood pressure is 140/90 or above, make an appointment with your doctor and start working on lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure.
Unless you have a history of colon cancer in your family, you can wait until 50 to begin colon cancer screening. If you do have a history of colon cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about scheduling a colon cancer screening. A colon cancer screening could involve a colonoscopy. It’s not a fun test, but it’s a lot better than having to undergo chemotherapy and other treatments for advanced colon cancer if you don’t catch it early.
If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you should also be regularly tested for diabetes. This test is a simple blood test.
For skin cancer, you can do a lot by just paying attention to the moles on your body. Take a good look at each one and keep an eye out for any strange changes (see this skin cancer self-check for more information). Take pictures if you want, so you’ll be able to show a doctor if things change. If you see any of the signs of skin cancer, make an appointment right away. If you have had excessive sun exposure, you may want to talk to a dermatologist to establish a baseline, but current recommendations do not see a benefit from annual full-body screenings for normal-risk people.
Turns out that prostate cancer screening is controversial. Some experts believe all men should be screened, other believe only high risk men should be screened while still others believe that prostate cancer screening isn’t helpful at all. What should you do? You should talk to your doctor about this one and bring up your family history of prostate cancer.
Depression is often overlooked when talking about health screening tests for women. Depression is a serious medical condition that is often treatable with a combination of therapy and medication.
The biggest sign of depression is feeling down and/or having little interest or pleasure in doing things for 2 weeks of more. If this description fits you, talk to your doctor about a more advanced screening test for depression.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
These infections include gonorrhea, syphilis, Chlamydia, and others (see HIV below). If you are sexually active, consider being routinely screened for these tests, especially if you had any unprotected sexual encounters.
These screenings generally involved simple blood tests and can be conducted confidentially. Remember, always use safer sex practices.
HIV is still a present and dangerous epidemic. Fortunately, new medications have greatly improved both the quality and quantity of life for people with HIV.
You should have an HIV test with your other routine screening tests. HIV testing should be repeated annually if you have had any experiences that put you at increased risk, such as:
- unprotected sex with multiple partners
- injection drug use (past or present)
- the exchange of sex for money (you or your partner)
- sex with a partner who is HIV-infected, bisexual or who used injection drugs
- current treatment for a sexually transmitted disease
- blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985
HIV screening can be done with a simple blood test. Results are confidential, and many resources exist for people living with HIV, including new medications and therapies.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have smoked 100 cigarettes in their lifetime (be honest here) need to be screened one time for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (basically, a blood vessel in your gut that is swollen).
Use this table as a guide for how to track your health screening tests, record the results and know when it is time to schedule the next round of testing.
Health Screening Checklist for Men
|Test||Last Test (mo/yr)||Results||Next Test Due (mo/yr)||Questions for the Doctor|
|Sexually transmitted infections|
|Abdominal aortic aneurysm (one-time test)|
- Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age—Your Checklist for Health. AHRQ Publication No. 07-IP006-A, February 2007. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htm.