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Especially for Males

Especially for Males


In addition to general health assessments, specific tests and examinations are added to routine health care for all men once they reach a certain age, health care providers say. ' Annual digital rectal exams for physical signs of cancer, beginning at age 40. Some doctors begin these tests earlier for patients with high risk factors; others begin them later, at age 45 or 50. Aging is a primary risk factor for colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, with the odds of developing the disease increasing markedly after age 50. About 90% of all colorectal cancer cases worldwide are in people older than 50. ' A fecal occult blood test, given annually beginning at age 50. This annual exam looks for minute amounts of blood in feces'often a sign of colorectal polyps or colon cancer tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. Some doctors begin this annual test at age 40, says Tom Barrett, MD, a staff physician at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center. ' Sigmoidoscopy or, preferably, colonoscopy exams to screen for colon cancer, beginning at age 50. These invasive but more accurate tests should be given every five years to look for colorectal polyps, which often develop into cancer tumors, and other visible signs of colon cancer. Sigmoidoscopy exams screen only about the lower third of the colon; colonoscopy exams check the entire length. ' Electrocardiogram, beginning at age 50. This annual test monitors heart function, says Roxanne Cox-Iyamu, MD, medical director for the northern Virginia office of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. About 62 million Americans are believed to have some form of cardiovascular disease, and 1 million die each year of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications. ' Annual digital exams and a blood test, called prostate-specific antigen test, beginning at age 50. This test is given to screen for prostate cancer, says Barrett of Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center. These should be given to men with a family history of the disease and to all African-American men beginning at age 45 because of the high prevalence of the disease among black men. According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the second most common kind of cancer among men, ranking behind only skin cancer. Prostate cancer is found mainly in men over age 55. The average age of patients at the time of diagnosis is 70. ' Annual testicular exams for men, beginning at age 15. Men also should be taught how to check themselves monthly for testicular abnormalities. Testicular cancer, which is almost always curable if found early, is most common among men between the ages of 15 and 35 but can strike at any time, according to the Testicular Cancer Resource Center. Most testicular cancers are identified as either a painless lump, a hardening or change in size of the testicle, or pain in the testicle. ' Annual anal exams and anal Pap smears for all sexually active men, particularly for men who have sex with men, says Barrett. Though official recommendations have yet to be crafted, many doctors offer these tests in a similar manner to female Pap smears because human papillomavirus infection in men can cause anal warts and lead to anal cancer.

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