Men’s Health Week is celebrated annually during the week before Father’s Day. This week honors the importance of the health and wellness of boys and men. We thought this would be a great time to remind the men over 65 in your life of some life-saving screenings.
Screenings are tests that look for diseases in their early stages before symptoms develop. Which screenings a man should have and how often depend in part on his family health history, personal health history, and lifestyle habits.
The following list includes some of the most important screenings for men over age 50 but does not include all possible screenings. Men over age 50 should consult a physician about what screenings to have and how often.
- Prostate cancer
All men should discuss prostate cancer screenings with their doctor. A simple blood test called the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test can find early prostate cancer. The guidelines say that men over age 50 should talk to their doctor about having a PSA test and understand the risks and benefits of the test.
- Colon cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that all men should be screened for colon cancer starting at age 45 until age 75. Several types of screening are available to find polyps in the colon that could develop into colon cancer. Men over age 50 should talk about the different types of colon cancer screening with their doctor. Men with a family history of colon cancer should talk to their doctor about screening at a younger age and those who are over age 75 should talk to their doctor about whether they need to continue being screened.
- Bone density test
As men age, there is a natural loss of some testosterone. This loss can contribute to the risk of osteoporosis, or bone loss. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends testing for men 70 and older and earlier if you are at risk for bone loss, fractures, or breaks.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, or AAA test
Men who were or are smokers are more at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm than their female counterparts. An AAA screening can find large bulges that might rupture if they are not repaired. Screening can also find smaller bulges that can be watched carefully over the years. Most AAAs don’t burst, but if they do, they can be fatal. A study of men ages 65 and older showed that those who have the screening are less likely to die of AAA rupture.
High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. A blood test is used to measure cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association wants everyone over age 20 who does not have heart disease to have a cholesterol test every four to six years. People with known heart disease or certain other conditions may need to have their cholesterol level checked more often.
Let this week be a reminder to celebrate men’s health – and to be proactive in maintaining your health or that of a beloved friend or family member. While screening tests may feel like a chore, it’s important to take these steps and potentially find diseases early when they are easier to treat. These tests can save your life!
Here’s to your good health!