Men’s Health: A Quick Guide

June 21, 2016

 

June is Men’s Health Month. Obviously, there are some issues that are unique to being a man, but the most important things to keep in mind are keeping up with your health maintenance and avoiding things that are bad for you.  People who have an established relationship with a primary care doctor are healthier overall and go to the emergency room less and are in the hospital less frequently.  

Heading to the doctor may not be top on your to do list, but it is important if you want to stay your healthiest. We spoke to two MedStar specialists, Tushar Samdani, MD and Michael Brown, MD, who help their patients better understand colon and prostate cancer and the facts around getting checked.

Dr. Samdani, Colon and Rectal Surgeon 

samdani

Q: Do I need to undergo colon screening? 

A: Colonoscopy is the most common method of identifying colon cancer. This screening is recommended for men age 50 years or older. For those with a family history of colon cancer, colonoscopy is recommended 10 years earlier than the age at which the family member was diagnosed with colon cancer. If patients are known to have genetic abnormality with high risk of colon cancer then colonoscopy is recommended earlier. 

Q: What are my chances of having colon cancer without any symptoms or any family history?

A: I tell my patients that there is approximately six percent lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer in general populations without any risk factor.  In patients without any family history of colon cancer, healthy diet, exercise and timely colonoscopy screenings may be helpful in preventing colon cancer. With current advancements in the treatment of colon cancer, survival rate is more than 90 percent if detected early.

 

Dr. Brown, Urologist

CaptureQ: Do I need to undergo prostate screening? 

A: Prostate cancer is typically identified through a blood screening by measuring serum Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) values and with a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). Typically, men are screened yearly, beginning at age 50 until about age 75. In higher risk individuals, such as African Americans and those with a positive family history, screenings can begin at age 40.

Q: If I get the PSA do I really need to have the DRE?

A: While many men do not like the idea of the DRE, the fact is having it done along with the PSA raises the chance of detecting clinically significant prostate cancer to as much as 95 percent. Prostate Cancer is one of the most treatable cancers in virtually every stage. But to treat it we must first know it is there.

 

Men's Health: A Quick Guide

When to go to the doctor:

  • Every 1-3 years for men ages 22-49
  • Every  year for men over 50

The guidelines above are for men who have no chronic medical issues.  Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD, asthma, heart disease and other chronic conditions, should follow up with their physician/s as instructed. Always remember to tell the doctor what is happening. Your physician is unable to tell what is wrong with a physical exam alone.  Don’t underplay what is going on with you.  Your doctor’s visit is your time to say whatever you want to say and ask whatever you want to ask.

What Should Happen at the Doctor’s Office:

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • A review of medicines
    • What medicines you are taking and why
    • Best practice is to have a list with all the details in your wallet
  • Review history of smoking, drinking and drugs
  • A conversation about preventative care (prevention is by age and gender)
  • Screenings, which may include:
    • Colon cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • High cholesterol
    • Obesity
    • Sexually transmitted infections
    • Depression

What Should Not Happen at the Doctor’s Office:

  • Tests that you do not need
  • Routine urinalysis when you don’t have symptoms
  • EKG’s or other heart tests when you don’t have symptoms
  • Anything you don’t want to have happen.  You are in the driver’s seat; let the doctor know what you think!

Fast Facts

Prostate Cancer

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn't go away
  • Painful ejaculation

Immunizations

  • Flu shot: everyone, every year
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis): once every 10 years
  • Varicella (chicken pox): if you haven’t had chicken pox
  • HPV (against penile cancer and warts): up to age 21
  • Zoster (shingles): age > 60
  • MMR (measles mumps rubella): if born after 1957 and have never had the shot

Erectile Dysfunction

  • Don’t be afraid to ask about it. This is a really, really, really common issue—it’s not just you!
  • The medications are safe
    • Very few men cannot take them
    • Certain medications interact—talk to your doctor
  • It probably doesn’t, but it could represent a medical problem, so go to the doctor to have it checked out