Home Mens health 3 Essential Health Checks for Men That Could Save Their Lives #MensHealth #Movember

3 Essential Health Checks for Men That Could Save Their Lives #MensHealth #Movember

written by Vidya Sury November 2, 2023
Essential health checks for men Three Men Standing While Laughing

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With ‘Movember’ awareness month shining the spotlight on men’s health, a urologist from global health system Cleveland Clinic recommends three important symptoms and health checks for men for three common urological cancers, mentioning that these tests cover around 90% of cancers he treats.

Men must undergo appropriate kidney, prostate, and bladder screenings as the earlier these cancers are diagnosed, the more treatable they are. In general, treatments at an earlier stage are less invasive and the outcomes better.  Individuals should not ignore any urological symptoms, but instead discuss these with a physician, and be sure to mention any family history of cancers.

3 essential health checks for men

1. Kidney cancer screening

Kidney cancers tend to occur later in life, most commonly from age 60 onwards, although younger people can still develop kidney cancer. Typically, younger men are screened when they have symptoms, which could include anything abnormal such as blood in the urine, flank pain, and fever. However, kidney cancers are usually a silent disease, so from the age of 60 and above, kidney screens is first in the list of health checks for men and should be a routine part of a man’s annual check-up.

A simple abdominal ultrasound can be useful in kidney screening, particularly in people with a family history of kidney disease or who present with symptoms. If an abnormality is picked up, for example, a mass on the kidney, then a contrast-enhanced MRI or CT scan will confirm a diagnosis and determine the next steps. Since kidney cancer usually develops without symptoms, masses are often found incidentally when a patient is screened for another reason.

Treatment options for localized kidney masses are usually straightforward with a very high rate of cure if the disease is caught early.

Essential health checks for men Photo Of Doctor Doing A Test On His Patient

2. Prostate cancer test

Prostate cancer is common to the extent that if all men lived to the age of 90 and beyond, all men would have developed it. Given this high prevalence, men with aggressive prostate cancer as well as those who develop it at an earlier age are treated. For older patients or less aggressive forms of prostate cancer, active surveillance is the preferred approach, with treatment initiated only if necessary.

Annual testing for prostate cancer is second on the list of essential health checks for men and is important for men aged 50 and above. However, if individuals have a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, they should start screening as early as age 40.

In addition to a physical examination, screening is done through a blood test to detect raised levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. This protein is produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, so having a high number doesn’t necessarily mean a person has cancer as there could be many other causes.

If a nodule or bulge is felt during the rectal physical examination, a biopsy will be taken regardless of the PSA results. The good news is that the method of taking the biopsy has vastly improved over the years, greatly reducing any risk of infection or bleeding. A special type of MRI, called multiparametric MRI, is fused with an ultrasound image, enabling a very precise prostate biopsy.

If the biopsy indicates cancer, a treatment plan will be formulated based on the classification of how aggressive it is and taking into account existing comorbidities and life expectancy.

3. Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer can be life-threatening, and it is time-sensitive as it can be very aggressive, spreading quickly. Smokers are at particularly high risk for bladder cancer so they need to be extra vigilant.

There is no routine bladder cancer test, but patients are screened if they report symptoms. The most common symptom is blood in the urine. Fortunately, screening is very simple, and conducted through inserting a scope into the bladder to examine it, in addition to urine tests.

If polyps are found in the bladder, they can usually be scraped out. However, if the cancer has advanced significantly, the bladder may have to be removed, which is life-changing.

Movember is a great opportunity to create awareness of these common cancers found in men and to encourage them to speak openly to their doctors about any symptoms they experience. Doing so could greatly improve their outcomes or even save their lives.

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