7 Checks to do this Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month, the perfect time to set aside the usual excuses for avoiding the doctor – “I’m too busy”, “I’d rather not know”, “Tests make me feel uncomfortable” – and check your health status. Here are seven tests to look into when you do.

1 Prostate Cancer

The lifetime risk for prostate cancer in South African men may be 1 in 18 (that’s according to the 2013 National Cancer Registry), but it’s good to know that early detection of the disease results in a greater chance of recovery.

When should you be tested? CANSA recommends routine PSA testing every two years from the age of 50. Men with a family history of the disease should be tested annually from about 40 years of age.

2 Testicular Cancer

This cancer is common among men between the ages of 15 and 39. According to the 2013 National Cancer Registry, the lifetime risk for testicular cancer in South African men is 1 in 2 084.

When should you be tested? CANSA recommends that you do a testicular self-check once a month and contact a doctor immediately if you find any lumps. It’s also a good idea to request a testicular exam when you visit your GP for your annual check-up. If your risk is higher (you have an undescended testicle, there’s a family history of the disease, or you have HIV) speak to your doctor about additional screening.  

3 Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer affects the colon and rectum is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in South Africa. It is estimated that 1 in 75 South African men will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime.

When should you be tested? As there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease, screening is hugely important. CANSA recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years from the age of 50. Those with a high risk profile require more regular testing and should discuss timings with their doctor.

4 Skin Cancer

South Africa has one of the highest skin cancer rates worldwide. According to WebMD.com, “Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age,” while men are also “2–3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women are.”

When should you be tested? CANSA strongly recommends checking your skin regularly for any changes, unusual marks or moles. It also advises that your annual medical check-up include a skin exam.

5 Blood pressure

According to The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, more than 1 in 3 South African adults have high blood pressure and the disease is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.

When should you be tested? It’s important that you check your blood pressure every two years if it’s within normal range. If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, your doctor will advise how often you should be tested.

6 Cholesterol levels

High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, so keep a close eye on it and make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle if your levels begin to climb.

When should you be tested? It’s recommended that all adults over 20 years of age have their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. If you have heart disease, or have a high risk of heart disease, you’ll need to be tested more regularly.

7 Blood sugar

With high blood sugar levels increasing your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even dementia, it’s key that you monitor your lifestyle choices carefully and schedule regular check-ups.

When should you be tested? All adults should be screened for diabetes every three years from the age of 45. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, annual screening is strongly recommended.

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