Prostate cancer. High cholesterol. Blood pressure issues. Colon cancer. In the past these might have been considered concerns for the older male population alone. But new studies, and new screening techniques are highlighting the need for men to check in regularly with their physician to maintain good health.
“Previously, age 50 was sort of the magic number to come in and screen for prostate and colon cancers,” said Dr. R. Tyler Hansen, family practice physician at Intermountain Hurricane Valley Clinic. “But those ages have changed and often, earlier is better, depending on your family history.”
For some patients, regular bloodwork to monitor cholesterol levels should be conducted for men in their 20s, with screenings for colon cancer at age 45 or earlier, and fluctuating ages for prostate cancer depending on the patient’s medical history.
“The truth is, you’re safest doing just what we were programmed to do when we were younger — yearly medical check-ups,” Dr. Hansen said, though he admits this is a tough sell for a lot of men.
“Overall, the stereotype of men not being proactive in their health screenings seems to fit,” Dr. Hansen said. “However, as they get older, that starts to change.”
And while a lot of men in their 20s and 30s still feel young enough to be invincible, Dr. Hansen said the benefit of being proactive with even the most basic health screenings can improve the quality and longevity of life.
“It can make a significant difference down the road in doing activities you want to do,” Dr. Hansen said. “You don’t want to wait until retirement to finally make time for your health.”
Plus, yearly visits don’t have to be lengthy or complicated.
“It can be as simple as a quick annual checkup and bloodwork,” Dr. Hansen said. “From there your physician can make recommendations for other screenings regarding men’s health.”
Two of the major preventive screenings many people think of for men are prostate and colon cancer screenings, both of which Dr. Hansen said are extremely important. However, he also said men need to think about cardiovascular health — cholesterol, blood pressure and weight — as well as keeping an eye on signs of diabetes.
“Being proactive is key,” Dr. Hansen said, adding that just because you have a conversation about your health with your physician doesn’t mean they’re going to insist you live on broccoli for the rest of your life.
“I’m a strong believer in shared decision making,” Dr. Hansen said. “Let’s look at your overall health and see if there are one or two things you could remove and replace with another behavior to allow for better balance and a healthier lifestyle over a long period of time.”
This Live Well column represents collaboration between healthcare professionals from the medical staffs of our not-for-profit Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and The Spectrum & Daily News.