Health checks for men: What to do when

Health checks for men: What to do when

June 30th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Dr. Susan Bhushan of Galen North Internal Medicine in Hixson said most men aren't likely to read publications by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society.

"Reading those [health] guidelines," she said, "can put most people, including physicians, to sleep; so I don't recommend it."

However, Bhushan said seeing a primary-care doctor while they are in their 20s can head off problems.

"It's actually never too soon, and it can have many advantages," she said. "For example, I often see male patients for several months before they get the courage to tell me about their 'embarrassing' problem. I don't blame them, as it's not easy to talk about."

June Matthews of University Health Services, who treats University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students, says it's important for young men to check themselves for testicular cancer.

"It's very, very curable," she said, "but you have to find it. We try to teach them to do a testicular exam.

"... When I was in high school, guys died from this," she said. "We've tried to change that through the years, and I think we've done a pretty good job."

Matthews said sexually transmitted diseases and viruses are also a problem for young men.

"That age group is the most sharing group," she said. "They'll let somebody have their ChapStick and their lunch. It's refreshing in some ways but risky in other ways."

Men, said Bhushan, tend to discuss and acknowledge their medical problems less than women, so they can go untreated for quite a while.

"Hopefully," she said, "we can get men to establish relationships with their doctors sooner than when they develop chest pains and wonder if it's a heart attack."

With that in mind, here are suggestions from area health-care providers on what men in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s should have during annual physical examinations.

JUNE MATTHEWS, BSN-RN, University Health Services

20s Learn how to administer testicular and breast self-exams; check out rashes that are not resolved with normal treatment because they could be a sexually transmitted disease; see a doctor if fatigue or sore throats don't go away because they could indicate mononucleosis.

DR. CHRIS LESAR, vascular surgeon, University Surgical Associates

30s Height and weight check; blood pressure check; screenings for oral, skin, breast and testicular cancers; lipid panel; EKG and urinalysis.

40s All of the above, plus digital rectal exam, fasting glucose test and additional cancer screening for blood in the stool.

50s All of the above, plus additional PSA (prostate specific antigen) cancer screening and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or colonoscopy every 10 years.

DR. SUSAN BHUSHAN, internist, Galen North Internal Medicine

30s Depression screening, often not acknowledged by men.

40s Test for fluctuating hormone levels, often manifested in patient complaints of fatigue or "getting old."