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Men’s Health Week: Go to the Doctor Before You Get Sick

So many men don’t see a doctor until they are already sick—sometimes with conditions such as heart disease that might have been prevented with proper care.

“Men often think there’s no reason to see a doctor if they are feeling fine. Even if they don’t feel well, they may be inclined to “tough it out,” even though many conditions can get worse if not promptly treated,” says John Fitzpatrick, M.D. of Highland Medical Clarkstown Medical Associates in West Nyack, NY. They may say they don’t have time, or they may simply not have a loved one around to remind them—over and over if needed—to make an appointment.

During Men’s Health Week, which leads up to Father’s Day, it is a great time to encourage the men in your life to get a checkup. Many major health problems that are common in men can be prevented through lifestyle changes, early detection and treatment.

Doctor visits commonly include tests for the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure. A blood pressure check is a routine part of most doctor visits.
  • High cholesterol. Routine cholesterol screening every five years is recommended for all men 35 and up with no known risk factors for heart disease. Repeat cholesterol screening should take place:
    • Every 5 years for men with normal cholesterol levels
    • More often if changes occur in lifestyle (including weight gain and diet)
    • More often if you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems or certain other conditions


  • Diabetes. All adults who do not have risk factors for diabetes should be screened starting at age 35 and repeated every 3 years. If you have other risk factors for diabetes, such as a parent, sibling or child with diabetes, overweight or obesity, high blood pressure, prediabetes, or a history of heart disease, you may be tested more often.
  • Colorectal cancer, beginning at age 45—earlier if there is a family history of the disease or polyps. Screening may also be considered if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps. There are several screening tests available including:
  • A stool-based fecal occult blood or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
  • A stool DNA test every 1 to 3 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or every 10 years with stool testing FIT done every year
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years


  • Prostate cancer. Starting at age 50, men should talk to a healthcare provider about the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.

If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with a healthcare provider starting at age 45.

  • Lung cancer. Smokers or former smokers ages 55 to 74 should ask their doctor whether they are candidates for lung cancer screening. You should have an annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) if:
    • You are aged 50 to 80 years AND
    • You have a 20 pack-year smoking history (a pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year) AND
    • You currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years


Your doctor may also recommend immunizations, including a tetanus booster every 10 years for men over 50, a shingles vaccine and a pneumococcal vaccine for those over 65.

“If you’ve been putting off seeing the doctor, remember you can catch “silent” illnesses early before they cause harm or even death,” Dr. Fitzpatrick says. “Taking care of yourself will allow you to care for your loved ones.”