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Men’s Health Month: What should I ask at the doctor’s office?

June 13, 2018

Men are half as likely as women to go to the doctor in a two year-period and twice as likely to admit never seeing a doctor in their adult lives, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in his lifetime, regular visits are crucial in forming a relationship with your doctor who knows your personal and family medical history and ensuring you’re getting the screenings and information you need to prevent cancer or detect it early.

A lot of men say their fear of hearing bad news is their main reason for skipping appointments. But by staying on top of your health and getting timely screenings, you can greatly reduce your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. To help navigate your next visit, here are a list of questions every man should ask his doctor.

Am I due for any vaccines? Most people think they get all their vaccines as children, but it’s important to ask your doctor if you need any vaccine updates or if there are newer vaccines you may have missed out on. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can protect you from oropharyngeal, penile and anal cancers and is available for most men through age 21. You should also make sure you received the hepatitis B vaccine (recommended at birth) to help prevent liver cancer.

Should I get screened for prostate cancer? The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test to measure the level of PSA in the body, as increased levels may be a sign of prostate cancer. The Prevent Cancer Foundation® recommends talking to your health care professional about the pros and cons of this test beginning at age 50, if you are at average risk. If you are African-American or have a history of prostate cancer in your family, you should start this conversation sooner.

When should I start colonoscopy screenings? Guidelines for colorectal cancer screening have changed recently from starting screening at age 50 to age 45. Based on your health and family histories, your health care professional will recommend when you should begin regular screenings. Colonoscopies can detect precancerous polyps before they develop into cancer and can prevent more invasive treatment later on.

Is this something I should be worried about? If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, ask your doctor about it. You know your body best, and if you sense something wrong or notice changes, speak up—it could be signaling a health issue.

If I make one lifestyle change, what should it be? Your doctor will ask you some basic questions about your health habits, like tobacco use, alcohol, exercise and diet. Based on these habits, ask your doctor about the most important change for you to make.

June is Men’s Health Month and the perfect time to schedule your check-up. Seeing your doctor regularly will bring you peace of mind knowing you are doing everything you can to Stop Cancer Before It Starts!®

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