Men are less likely to go to the doctor than women, according to research from Rutgers University. Yet, regular checkups are a must for men who want to live longer, healthier lives — and spend less money on costly medical care. Preventative care can help discover diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes before they become life-threatening. That’s why knowing which checkups to get (and how often) is important for all men.
1. Colorectal Cancer Screening
Getting regular colorectal (colon) cancer screenings can save your life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest form of cancer in the United States. The CDC also states that if everyone aged 50 and older completed regular screenings 60 percent of deaths from colorectal cancer would be prevented. The CDC recommends getting colon cancer screenings starting at age 50, or younger if you’re at higher risk. According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking and genetics. Also, let your doctor know if a first-degree relative has had colon cancer or adenomatous polyps.
2. Prostate Cancer Screening
Beginning at ages 45 through 50, men should consider regular prostate cancer screenings, suggests the American Cancer Society. Early detection and treatment lead to high cure rates, and over 90 percent of prostate cancers are detected early because of available screenings, notes the American Institute for Cancer Research.
3. Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. MedlinePlus recommends having your cholesterol monitored at age 35 and once every five years from then on, but notes that people with other heart disease risk factors should get checked earlier and more often. They also recommend having your blood pressure checked every two years (or every year if levels are above 120 over 80), as high blood pressure is a risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.
4. Dental and Vision Checkups
The American Dental Association says that, while seeing a dentist once or twice yearly (or more often in some cases) is important, 100 million Americans skip regular dental appointments. The CDC says only half of U.S. adults at high risk for vision loss have had eye checkups within the past year. Eye appointments should be scheduled every one to two years for men, depending on age and vision-loss risk factors.
5. Diabetes Screening
The American Diabetes Association says diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States. In 2012, over eight million Americans had diabetes that went undiagnosed. MedlinePlus suggests men aged 45 and older have diabetes screenings every three years — or more often (and earlier) if they’re overweight and/or have high blood pressure.
6. Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer can be deadly without proper treatment. The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey says that most squamous and basal cell skin cancers are curable, and that skin cancer cure rates might be 100 percent with early detection by dermatologists.
7. Immunizations and STD Tests
Ask your doctor about following the CDC’s immunization schedule to help avoid contracting infectious diseases like flu, human papilloma virus (HPV) and shingles. If you have unprotected sex, talk to your doctor about STD screenings, which can protect your health and the health of other people.
Seeing a list of all these screenings may feel daunting. However, keeping up with your preventative care screenings is a relatively passive (but hugely meaningful) action you can take toward good health. Try keeping a spreadsheet to ensure you stay current.