We all know how much most men love going to the doctor – about as much as they love asking for directions or hitting the mall – which means they need a little incentive to take their health seriously. And here it is: A compelling list of 5 medical tests that are easy to do and can save a man’s life. Pass it on.
Early detection of testicular cancer increases a man’s chance of survival by 90% – that’s right, 90%. It’s especially important for Caucasian men under 40 because they are at the greatest risk. And, guess what? A doctor’s visit isn’t necessary. Men simply need to take a few minutes in their own home once a year. Their partner can even help. Here’s how:
- Slowly roll each testicle, one at a time, between your thumb and fingers gently feeling all over for any lumps or hardness. Normal testicles should feel soft. Cancer may feel like a knuckle or a small, hard bean.
- Make sure that neither of the testicles has grown smaller since your last check. The testicle should be about an inch and a half long (don’t worry, a ruler isn’t needed; just put two fingers next to each other, lining up the fingernails and compare that length to your testicle width). Testicles smaller than that distance could indicate a higher risk for testicular cancer.
- If a lump or abnormality is detected, schedule a doctor’s appointment right away.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum and helps produce the fluid that creates semen. Prostate cancer, which affects about 1 in 6 men, is one of the most common male cancers. So, it’s critical that men get checked annually starting around 40 years old and definitely by the time they reach 50.
The test is simple, painless and over in seconds. The doctor will put a dollop of lubricant on a gloved finger, quickly insert it into your rectum to feel for any irregularities in the prostate tissue and whether the prostate is enlarged.
Bonus: Knock out Test #3 at the same time.
Guaiac Test (Better Known as the Poop Test)
While checking your prostate, your physician can help him or herself to a tiny sample of your stool. By putting a solution onto the specimen, your doctor can tell in seconds if there is any blood in your stool (one of the signs of colon cancer).
You can also do this test at home by picking up a Hemoccult kit at your local pharmacy.
Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the US and used to be one of the most deadly. But if it’s caught early, colon cancer is actually curable and the treatment is relatively easy. This test is the most involved one on the list, but the good news is that people with an average risk for colon cancer only have to do it every 10 years. Make an appointment now and be done for a decade.
Before the exam, instructions often require a special diet and laxatives to help clear out the colon; an enema may also be necessary before the procedure. This exam prerequisite is the part that most folks complain about.
At the actual test, sedating medication will ensure the patient is relaxed. Some doctors will even use general anesthesia. Then the doctor will insert an instrument called a colonocope into the colon to look for polyps, which can be the beginnings of colon cancer. They can be removed right then and there and, if necessary, tested for cancerous tissue later. The entire exam takes about 30 minutes. Drugs may cause the patient to feel groggy, but there is no physical pain.
Because colon cancer usually produces no symptoms until it’s at an advanced, and more difficult to treat stage, it is important that everyone begin testing at the age of 50 (or earlier if there’s a significant family history).
This simple blood test can say so much about a man’s overall health. Men with low testosterone levels are more prone to being overweight, having diabetes, or feeling fatigued and depressed. They are also at greater risk for osteoporosis.
Testosterone does drop with age but certain things, such as a lot of belly fat, can cause it to plummet. With it can go your sex drive and even your erectile function.
Low levels can be corrected by losing belly fat (follow a good diet and get lots of exercise). If the doctor is seriously concerned, there are prescription anti-estrogen pills, gels and injections that will block the effect of belly fat until it’s lost naturally.
There. Now that doesn’t sound so hard, does it?