11 tests that could save his life

Men only call in the doctor when they are really ill. But as what have been discovered, they need to take better care of themselves.

Men suffer more heart disease, cancer, work injuries and car accidents than women. The average male will die about six years earlier than his female counterpart, and experts believe the male attitude to health care is responsible in part for the gender gap in life expectancy.

In general, men prefer to save their visits to the GP for when they're really necessary. They don't like to ask for help and, unlike most women, they avoid talking to friends about their health concerns.

Health professionals in some parts of Britain have resorted to holding clinics in pubs, rather than waiting for men to make doctor's appointments. One such clinic found that a significant number of men had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and were dangerously overweight.

One of the participants of this programme admits that health care needs to be taken to men, but points out that trying to nag or tell men what they should do is usually unproductive. It's best to give men the information that they want, while quietly incorporating the information you think they need. They can then make decisions on whether to take any action.

While most women have caught on the idea of disease prevention, men are a bit slow on the uptake. Many of the complaints that cause serious illness in men can be prevented or treated successfully if they are detected early enough, and experts agree that having regular health checks, and taking advantage of the available screening tests, can reduce the likelihood of disability or premature death.

It's important for men to be aware of illnesses that may be inherited, and any family history of heart disease, bowel cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure should be pointed out to the doctor.


What Tests? When?
The following health checks are available at any time in a man's life. However, here's a guide to the ones generally recommended for particular age groups.

Age 20-40
Younger men believe they're invincible. Most will wait until they have symptoms that interfere with their ability to function before seeing a doctor. Health maintenance is great for the under-40s, and regular health checks that include the following tests:

Blood Pressure
About 31 percent of men suffer from hypertension but, because it is often a symptom less condition, many men are not even aware they have it. This test is especially important for men who smoke, are inactive or overweight.

Cholesterol
About 17 percent of men over the age of 20 have high blood cholesterol. Level of more than
5.5 mmol/L suggests a greatly increased risk of coronary heart disease, and more than 6.5 means an extremely increased risk.

Blood Glucose
Men are more likely to be
hospitalised and 1.5 times more likely to die as a result of diabetes.  Early detection means early establishment of a management plan, while allowing diabetes to go untreated can lead to kidney disease, heart problems and erectile dysfunction.

Age 40-60

Prostate Tests
Many men avoid prostate examinations because it involves having a gloved and lubricated finger inserted in the rectum. Although this test can be uncomfortable, a digital rectal exam is generally painless, takes just 10-15 seconds to complete, and is much less bothersome than a Pap smear.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer, and the second highest cause of cancer death in men. An enlarged prostate doesn't always mean cancer. One common condition, benign prostatic hyperplasia, causes such symptoms as frequency and difficulty in urinating. However, it can be treated.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests also are used for prostate-cancer screening, but there seems to be a divergence of opinion on its usefulness, and not all GPs routinely recommend this test.

Faecal Occult Blood Tests
These should be performed yearly from the age of about 50, and can be done at home. The tests detect trace (minute) amounts of blood in
faeces, and can provide early detection of bowel cancer. Men, who have a family history of bowel cancer, or those who have been diagnosed with bowel disease or polyps, may be advised by their doctor to have regular colonoscopy examinations. A colonoscopy allows a gastroenterologist to see inside the colon using a flexible tube that is inserted via the rectum.

Bone Density Scans
Osteoporosis is often seen as female condition and, while the risk is higher for women, it also affects one in three men over the age of 60. The anti-osteoporosis drug Alendronate sodium, also known as Fosamax, was previously subsidised only for women with osteoporosis after menopause. Men who smoke, drink excessively and have taken certain medications, such as corticosteroids, may be at an increased risk of osteoporosis, and should ask their GP about a bone density scan.

Hormone Testing
These tests are not generally recommended as routine assessments. The doctor may suggest
having a blood test to check for any testosterone depletion if a man reports loss of libido or general malaise - the most common symptoms of andropause, the male equivalent of menopause. Testosterone replacement therapy is also available as an HRT patch for men.

Age 60+
Exercise and diet are a major issue for this age group. Regular check-ups are very important, and some of the previous tests mentioned may need to be performed more often. Tests crucial for such age-related conditions as glaucoma might also be suggested by your doctor.

Eye Tests
Every year.

Hearing Tests
Every two years, or as recommended by your doctor.

Tests He Can Do Himself Self-examination for testicular cancer
Early diagnosis is essential because there are some very effective treatments. Men should physically examine their testicles every month or so, looking out for any enlargement or lumps. However, having one testicle larger than the other may be normal and should not be cause for concern, unless there is a significant variation or recent change.

Skin self-examination
Get your partner or a friend to check your upper back, as this is the most common site for melanoma in men. Other changes to look for are warts, spots or moles, and lesions and sores that don't seem to be healing.

Conditions That Men Find Embarrassing Penile lesion A blemish or spot on the penis is almost always innocent but they also can be a sign of an infection or sexually transmitted disease. If there are accompanying symptom, such as pain on urinating or penile discharge, it should be checked out immediately.

Impotence
This is a very common condition and affects men of all ages. Many men put off seeking professional help because they believe the cause is psychological. However, there are physical factors that also may contribute to impotence including diabetes and vascular disease. Certain types of medications may play a role as well.

Depression
Men who feel depressed usually suffer in silence because depression is seen as a "female" disease, and so discussing emotional problems is seen as a sign of male weakness. Although statistics show that women are more at risk of depression, men are twice as likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, as well as engage in destructive behaviour. This, along with the high male suicide rate, suggests that depression is a bigger problem for men than we all think.

Anything Rectal
Changes in bowel function, anal itching and blood in the toilet are all no-go zones for men. It might be caused by haemorrhoids or poor diet, but it also could be something far more serious. Have it checked immediately.