Men and women share many of the same health concerns such as heart disease, cancer and other problems.
Men also face some specific health concerns that are unique to them.
Preventive care beginning as a young adult can help men live a healthier lifestyle and possibly avoid health problems.
It is not uncommon for young men to skip preventive care if they presently enjoy good health. Yet, lifestyle habits formed as a young man may mean problems later in life.
Unhealthy lifestyle decisions at a young age can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious medical conditions.
One of the most important steps you can take is a thorough physical examination, which will include a family medical history, age-appropriate screening tests and identification of potential health problems.
If there is a history of heart disease, cancer or a chronic illness such as diabetes in your family medical history, your doctor may suggest other tests.
Your doctor will encourage you to take advantage of preventive screenings at the appropriate time for conditions that cross gender lines, such as:
- Colorectal cancer (colonoscopy)
- Skin conditions including cancer and shingles
- Mental health issues such as depression
- Autoimmune diseases including diabetes, lupus and others
Lifestyle changes and any predisposition towards such dangers as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other indicators will factor into your doctor's recommendations.
Two problems in particular are specific to men: testicular and prostate cancer.
One of the most prevalent types of cancer in men, prostate cancer typically develops after the age of 50 although it can occur earlier.
In many cases, cancer of the prostate presents no symptoms and progresses so slowly that older men may have the disease, yet die from another unrelated cause.
When symptoms are present, they include:
Pain when urinating
Erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems
However, prostate cancer can spread and if not treated can cause death.
The National Cancer Institute estimated new cases and deaths from prostate cancer in the United States in 2013 at:
New cases: 238,590
The following screenings are recommended:
Digital rectal examination (DRE) by your doctor every year after age 50 will check the prostate gland for lumps and swelling.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a blood test that may help diagnose prostate disease. Men over 50 should discuss having this test with their doctor. This test is not conclusive and there are risks with false positive results that can lead to invasive and potentially, debilitating side effects.
If the prostate cancer is not aggressive or growing rapidly, your doctor may not suggest any treatment. When treatment is appropriate, the options include:
- Several forms of radiation treatment
- Hormonal therapy
- Other specialized treatments
It is important to catch the cancer at an early stage when more treatment options may be available. A yearly checkup will help you and your doctor decide what's best for your situation.
Testicular cancer can appear in young men and later in life. Here are the steps to help spot this form of cancer:
Males should perform monthly testicular examinations beginning at age 15.
Males with a history of undescended testicles are at increased risk of developing testicular cancer.
Any male noticing an abnormality in the scrotum or testicle (pain, swelling on one side) should seek prompt medical attention.