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Men, It's Time to Stop Putting Off Your Doctor's Appointments

Times-Tribune - 7/27/2022

Jul. 26—Taking the time to prioritize your health is important for everyone, but can be especially critical for men. On average, men in the U.S. die five years earlier than women and at higher rates from the three leading causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injuries, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Oftentimes, man don't see their doctors regularly. While the oversight is often due to time constraints, some may fear discovery of an undiagnosed condition or don't understand the importance of seeing a doctor.

Even if you aren't experiencing any health issues, annual wellness visits could reveal problems and help you avoid complications that, if ignored, could require costly long-term care and have dire consequences. Yearly visits are also essential for staying up to date on such things as immunizations and blood work, which could help identify health risks like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. While these conditions can be deadly, they are also often preventable when caught early.

Regular tests, such as testicular exams or colon cancer screening, are critical to early diagnosis for potentially serious diseases. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men in the United States. In fact, 13 out of every 100 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetimes, according to the CDC.

Men should start screening by age 50, but if there is a family history, screening should begin by 40 or 45. This screening is a simple blood test measuring the amount of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, in your blood. Prostate cancer may have no early symptoms, so regular screening is critical to catching it early.

Similarly, according to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in 23 men is at risk of developing colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the United States. The CDC says it is the second leading cause of cancer death in Kentucky. Colorectal cancer — cancer in either the colon or the rectum — often develops slowly and typically begins as a polyp. The polyp is a growth in the tissue that forms in the lining of a colon and can be identified and removed during preventive colon cancer screenings.

We also recommend annual screening for lung cancer starting at age 55. Kentucky has the highest rate of lung cancer in the U.S. A low-dose CT lung scan can provide detailed pictures of your lungs to help your medical provider detect tumors. It's a non-invasive scan that takes only a few minutes to complete. Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer; other less common risk factors include exposure to radon, asbestos and other cancer-causing chemicals.

Often overlooked in annual wellness is the importance of mental health checks. If you notice a significant change in your appetite or sleeping patterns, loss of interest in activities or feelings of hopelessness, talk with your physician about being screened for depression.

No matter your age, we encourage men to seek care for their mental and physical health. Make the time to schedule appointments or routine check-ups that have been pushed to the back burner, and put your overall health first to ensure you are staying healthy year-round.


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