Men have a reputation for avoiding the doctor and not always prioritising their health. But regular health checks can pick up problems early, well before you develop any symptoms of disease. This can help to prevent future health problems, or pick them up early, when they are easier to treat.
Your doctor can explain the specific screening tests you should have and how often you should have them, taking into account factors such as your personal medical history and family history.
Here are some of the tests they might recommend you have:
- Heart health – a blood test to check your cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels, measurement of your blood pressure. If you are over 50, your doctor may also recommend an Electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart’s electrical activity.
- Diabetes check – a fasting blood test to check glucose levels in the blood. This is recommended every three years in those at risk of diabetes and yearly in those who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. If you are over 40, you should check your risk with the AUSDRISK tool.
- Bowel cancer – a stool test to check for blood in your stools (called a faecal occult blood test) is recommended every two years if you are aged 50 years or above. If you are at high risk, for example due to a family history of bowel cancer, a colonoscopy might be recommended.
- Skin cancer – check your skin at home regularly for unusual moles and freckles. If you are at high risk (due to working outdoors or having had previous skin cancers) see your doctor at least yearly for a full body skin check.
- Prostate cancer – screening isn’t recommended for all men but if you have a family history of cancer, including prostate cancer, you may need a blood test to check prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and a digital prostate examination.
When you see your doctor for a health check they will also ask about your family history of disease and your lifestyle including diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol, and may check your weight and waist measurement, as these factors can all affect your risk of disease and how often you need to have screening checks.