Men’s Health Month is a reminder to schedule preventive screenings

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Men’s Health Month in June is a reminder for men to think about their health and consider making some screening appointments that could lengthen, or even save, their lives.

Why is it so important for men to take care of themselves? For one thing, on average in the United States, men die nearly six years earlier than women.

That is a wider gap than before the pandemic, which took a disproportionate toll on men. Researchers also note that men are more prone to unintentional injuries, such as drug overdoses and  accidents. Homicides, heart disease and suicides also contribute to the worsening life expectancy for men.

Men’s Health Month is a time for men to take charge of their health and to schedule their preventive  health screenings, especially for the conditions that if caught and treated early could save their life.

Some recommended screenings include:

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The American Heart Association says the key screenings for heart health involve an annual physical that include test for blood pressure, cholesterol, body weight and diabetes. Smoking is also a major cause of heart disease, and a health-care provider can help with a cessation plan.

Skin cancer: Increased sun exposure and fewer trips to the doctor put men at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, so it’s important to not only protect your skin when outdoors, but to see a dermatologist if you notice any change in a mole’s color or appearance, or if they bleed, ooze, itch, appear scaly or become tender or painful. A dermatologist can also do a full-body skin cancer screening.

Lung cancer: Kentucky still has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation and leads the nation in lung-cancer cases and deaths. Lung-cancer screening via low-dose computed tomography (a low-dose CT scan) is recommended for anyone 50 to 80 who smokes or has quit in the past 15 years and has at least a 20 pack-year smoking history (a pack per day for 20 years or two packs per day for 10 years).

Prostate cancer: On average, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is the second leading cause of death among men, according to the American Cancer Society. It is recommended that prostate cancer screenings for men who are at average risk begin at age 50.

Colon cancer: Routine screening for colorectal cancer is recommended to start at age 45. Men with a family history of the cancer may be advised to get screened earlier.

Diabetes: In Kentucky, about 100,000 people have diabetes and don’t know it. That’s why it’s important to get screened with a blood test even when you don’t think you have any symptoms.

Mental health: A primary-care provider is a good place to start if you are seeking help with a mental-health concern. Mental Health America of Kentucky also offers a free, online mental-health screening. The new, national 988 suicide/crisis hotline is available 24/7.

“While men are diagnosed with depression half as often as women and are less likely to attempt suicide, men die by suicide three to four times more frequently,” says a peer-reviewed article in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics by Nathan Swetlitz. “Although there is no one-to-one correspondence between depression and suicide, depression is one of suicide’s most significant risk factors.”

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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