Men, Follow this Checklist to Better Health

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Provided by Novant Health UVA Health System

Dr Gary Derosa

Gary DeRosa, M.D.

Many men delay or avoid visiting their doctor for an annual checkup.

Women, on the other hand, are much more likely to visit a doctor for routine examinations. Their well-woman exams usually begin at age 21 and continue annually. Girls in their late teens will come in to discuss abnormal menstrual periods or birth control initiation.

Men, in many cases, finish their immunizations as grade-schoolers and avoid a doctor unless it’s an emergency situation. This inactivity can stretch for decades.

“We’re trying to change that narrative,” said Gary DeRosa, M.D., a family medicine physician at Novant Health UVA Health System Bull Run Family Medicine – Manassas. “If you get sick, we want to get you better. But if we can prevent people from getting sick in the first place, that’s ideal.”

DeRosa suggests a basic checklist of screenings that all men should have at every age. Almost all of them can be done during an annual physical exam.

During your 20s and 30s

“It’s a good time to catch things before they become difficult to treat,” DeRosa said. “You want to do it before those things turn into larger problems.”

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • HIV screening
  • Syphilis screening
  • Depression screening
  • Alcohol, smoking and substance abuse screening

“If there are risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, or a family history of cardiovascular disease, you will screen for diabetes and cholesterol in this age group,” DeRosa noted.

During your 40s

All of the same screenings you had during your 20s and 30s, plus:

  • Diabetes screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Prostate cancer for those at high risk for or with family history of prostate cancer

During your 50s

All of the same screenings you had through your 40s, plus:

  • Prostate cancer screening

“The prostate cancer screening test was formerly given to all men at 50, regardless of risk, but that has changed,” DeRosa said. “You should get screened earlier than 50 if you have a primary relative with prostate cancer, if you have erectile dysfunction symptoms, problems with urination or if you just want to get the screening.”

“If the primary relative was diagnosed in his 50s or younger, then your first screening will be 10 years earlier than his age of diagnosis,” DeRosa added. “For example, if your father was diagnosed when he was 52, you should begin screenings at 42.”

  • Colorectal cancer screening

“Every man should be screened through a colonoscopy beginning at 50,” DeRosa said. “However, if you have a primary relative with colon cancer, your first screening should be 10 years younger than the age your relative was diagnosed.”

  • Hepatitis C screening

    (one-time screening for those born between 1945 and 1965)

  • Lung cancer screening

“Men ages 55 to 80 are screened via a low-dose CAT scan of their lungs if they have a 30 pack-year smoking history,” DeRosa explained. “A pack-year is defined as the number of packs per day multiplied by total number of years smoked, regardless of whether you still smoke or if you’ve quit during the past 15 years.”

During your 60s and 70s

All of the same screenings you had through your 50s, plus:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

“This ultrasound is recommended for men ages 65 to 75 with any smoking history,” DeRosa shared.

  • “Falls” prevention screening

“Beginning at age 65, you will be asked questions about whether you’ve fallen, as well as the frequency and level of injury, during your annual physical exam,” DeRosa explained.

Ultimately, annual checkups are a simple, essential step to maintain health, regardless of age.

“It’s not a sign of weakness or a lack of masculinity to go to your doctor,” DeRosa said. “Take care of yourself. Set an example for your family and your children.”

For more information on primary care services or to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician at Novant Health UVA Health System, visit NovantHealthUVA.org/primarycare.

 

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