Screenings, lifestyle changes can improve men’s health

June is Men’s Health Month, a time for men to look at how to maintain their own good health. Preventive health care and regular screenings are crucial for men to detect and manage potential health issues early.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on essential cancer screenings:

Prostate cancer screening should begin starting at age 50, or age 45 for those with a family history or who are African American. Screening includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The frequency is based on initial results and risk factors as advised by your health care provider.

Testicular cancer screening should occur between ages 15 and 45. Do regular self-exams to check for lumps, swelling, or other changes. Report any abnormalities to your healthcare provider immediately.

Colon cancer screening should begin at age 45. Screening options include stool-based tests, colonoscopy, and CT colonography. The frequency varies depending on the test; typically every 10 years for a colonoscopy, more frequently for stool tests.

All men should be screened for skin cancer, especially those with fair skin or high sun exposure. Perform self-exams to check for new or changing moles. Get annual skin exams by a healthcare professional, typically a dermatology specialist.

All these cancers have several obvious symptoms in their early stages when they are most easily and successfully treated, but many times they are either not recognized or not diagnosed in time.

Other key screenings include blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Get your blood pressure checked at least every two years, or more frequently if you have high blood pressure or risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For cholesterol, get a screening every five years for those at average risk; more often if there are risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, smoking, or obesity. Follow your health care provider’s recommendation for diabetes or blood sugar screening, which typically starts at age 45, or younger for those who have a high body mass index or obesity.

The good news is that lifestyle changes can help improve your health.

Adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit red meat, processed foods, and added sugars to lower the risk of various cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise each week. Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.

Smoking cessation is crucial. Quitting smoking dramatically reduces the risk of lung cancer and improves overall health.

Limit alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of liver disease, certain cancers, and other health issues. Guidelines suggest consuming no more than two drinks per day for men.

Annual wellness exams are essential to monitor and discuss any health changes with your healthcare provider, ensuring timely intervention and management of potential health issues. For an appointment at any of Riverwood Healthcare Center’s primary care clinics in Aitkin, Garrison and McGregor, call 218-927-2157.

Dr. Erik Bostrom, family physician at Riverwood’s Aitkin clinic, comments: “Don’t overlook your mental and emotional well-being. Regular discussions with your healthcare provider about any issues such as stress and anxiety can lead to early intervention and support.Get your recommended health screenings and stay proactive about your health, seeking medical care as soon as symptoms arise. Working together, we can help you significantly reduce your risk of serious health conditions and maintain a healthier, more fulfilling life.”