Although you might not want to take the time to see your doctor if you're feeling fine, regular checkups and screenings can help you find out about any potential health problems you may have. Early detection is crucial in treating the following conditions affecting men.
The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of the body. Although the prostate becomes enlarged in nearly all men older than 50, in one of every 10 men this enlargement constricts the urethra, making urination difficult or, in extreme cases, blocking the flow of urine altogether. African American men are especially prone to this condition.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says you should look for these symptoms of prostate enlargement:
Difficulty in starting flow of urine
Decreased force and thickness of urine stream
Sleeplessness because of the need to urinate at night
Dribbling after the end of urination
Report these symptoms to your health care provider, who will conduct appropriate testing.
Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among American men. According to the National Cancer Institute, the following are considered at-risk groups: all men older than 50, but especially African Americans; men with a family history of prostate cancer; and men who eat a high-fat diet.
All men should talk with their health care provider about their potential risk and discuss an appropriate screening strategy. Periodic screenings using a digital rectal exam or a prostate specific antigen test may detect prostate cancer in its early stages.
If prostate cancer is confirmed, you may not need to have the prostate removed. Doctors will determine if the disease is limited to the prostate and recommend further treatment as needed.
Cancer of the colon or rectum is the third most common form of cancer among American men. Several tests are used to screen for colorectal cancer. They include a digital rectal exam; fecal occult blood test to look for blood in the stool; sigmoidoscopy, which is an examination of the lower colon with a thin, flexible scope; barium enema with air contrast; and colonoscopy, an examination of the entire colon.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men 50 and older have a fecal occult blood test every year and a sigmoidoscopy every five years.
Routine screening by your health care provider and testicular self-exams have not been effective in reducing the death rate from testicular cancer, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Routine screening and testicular self-exams are not recommended for most healthy men.