According to the National Center for Health Statistics, one out of every five guys hasn’t seen a doctor in more than a year. Visiting a physician for an annual checkup is a simple task – one that takes less time than stepping out to lunch or going to get your car washed. Then why is it that some men don’t go to the doctor regularly?
According to Dr. Gene Winfield, primary care physician at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital and Desert Grove Family Medical, men typically don’t schedule annual physicals because they are either too busy, are fearful that their doctor may find a serious problem, or are uncomfortable when it comes to exams like prostate checks.
“Whether in their 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s, men are not invincible,” said Dr. Winfield. “It’s our job as medical professionals to help them take care of themselves, so they can live long, active and healthy lives. Annual checkups can identify potential issues, which can oftentimes be resolved before they transition into serious health issues.”
For men in their 20s, an annual exam includes looking at blood pressure and checking that height and weight are proportional. The checks also include cholesterol testing every five years, unless there are known risk factors, which could increase frequency of testing. Doctors also screen for skin cancer, diabetes, liver problems, sexually transmitted diseases and testicular cancer. And like breast health for women, men should be conducting monthly self-exams of their prostate areas.
For men in their 30s, testing includes much of what it did when they were in their 20s, only vision examinations and screening for coronary heart disease are common, especially for those with a strong family history or associated risk factors.
For men in their 40s, testing expands to include diabetes screening every three years once patients are over the age of 45. Also, doctors tend to look more closely for skin and oral cancers as well as behavioral health issues including alcohol abuse.
For men in their 50s, an annual screening for Type 2 diabetes is recommended, as well as checking for lipid disorders, conducting an electrocardiogram, and testing vision and hearing. Depression is common. In this decade, doctors screen more closely for prostate and colon cancer, as well as coronary heart disease.
For men 60+, an annual physical looks for all of the above, with an added focus on lung cancer and mental health wellness, specifically screening for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.