Most Important Health Screening Tests

Most Important Health Screening Tests – medical tests every man should have

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Medical Tests Every Man Should Get

Essential Screening Tests Every Man Needs

Why Screening Tests Are Important

Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. With early detection, colon cancer can be nipped in the bud.

Finding diabetes early may help prevent complications such as vision loss and impotence.

The tests you need are based on your age and risk factors.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.

Tests for Prostate Cancer
Screenings for healthy men may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and possibly a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Government guidelines recommend against the routine use of the PSA test. The American Cancer Society advises each man to talk with a doctor about  the risks and possible benefits of the PSA test. Discussions should begin at:

50 for average-risk men.
45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans.
40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer.

Testicular Cancer
This uncommon cancer develops in a man’s testicles, the reproductive glands that produce sperm. Most cases occur between ages 20 and 54. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Men at higher risk (a family history or an undescended testicle) should talk with a doctor about additional screening. Some doctors advise regular self-exams, gently feeling for hard lumps, smooth bumps, or changes in size or shape of the testes.

Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: growths on the inner surface of the colon. After cancer develops, it can invade or spread to other parts of the body. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove polyps before they turn cancerous.

Tests for Colon Cancer
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test. A similar alternative is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that examines only the lower part of the colon.

Some patients opt for a virtual colonoscopy — a CT scan — or double contrast barium enema — a special X-ray — although if polyps are detected, an actual colonoscopy is needed to remove them.

Skin Cancer
The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma (shown here). It begins in specialized cells called melanocytes that produce skin color. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men are also 2-3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women are. Your risk increases as lifetime exposure to sun and/or tanning beds accumulates; sunburns accelerate risk.

Screening for Skin Cancer
The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend regular skin self-exams to check for any changes in marks on your skin including shape, color, and size. A skin exam by a dermatologist or other health professional should be part of a routine checkup. Treatments for skin cancer are more effective and less disfiguring when it’s found early.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
The risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm — dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it.

Screening for High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings give two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats.

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and in between those two is prehypertension — a major milestone on the road to high blood pressure. How often blood pressure should be checked depends on how high it is and what other risk factors you have.

Cholesterol Levels
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries (seen here in orange). This increases your risk of heart disease.

Atherosclerosis — hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes and medications can reduce this “bad” cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Determining Cholesterol Levels
The fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that tells your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). The results tell you and your doctor a lot about what you need to do to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Starting at age 20, men should be screened if they are at increased risk for heart disease. Starting at 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.

Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), nerve damage, and impotence. This doesn’t have to happen. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications.

Screening for Type 2 Diabetes
A fasting blood sugar test, glucose tolerance test, or an AIC all can be used alone or together to screen for diabetes. Healthy adults should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you have a higher risk, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may start testing earlier and more frequently.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s in the blood and other body secretions of infected individuals, even when there are no symptoms. It spreads from one person to another when these secretions come in contact with the vagina, anal area, mouth, eyes, or a break in the skin. There is still no cure or vaccine. Modern treatments can keep HIV infection from becoming AIDS, but these medications can have serious side effects.

HIV Screening Tests
HIV-infected individuals can remain symptom-free for many years. The only way to know they are infected is with a series of blood tests. The first test is called ELISA or EIA. It looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood. It’s possible not to be infected and still show positive on the test. So a second test called a Western blot assay is done for confirmation. If you were recently infected, you could still have a negative test result.

Repeat testing is recommended. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, ask your doctor about the tests.

Preventing the Spread of HIV
Most newly infected individuals test positive by two months after infection. But up to 5% are still negative after six months. Safe sex — abstinence or always using latex barriers such as a condom or a dental dam — is necessary to avoid getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Drug users should not share needles.

Glaucoma
This group of eye diseases gradually damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness — and significant, irreversible vision loss can occur before people with glaucoma even notice any symptoms. Screening tests look for abnormally high pressure within the eye, to catch and treat the condition before damage to the optic nerve.

Glaucoma Screening
Eye tests for glaucoma are based on age and personal risk:

Under 40: Every 2-4 years
40-54: Every 1-3 years
55-64: Every 1-2 years
65 up: Every 6-12 months

Talk with a doctor about earlier, more frequent screening if you fall in a high risk group, including African-Americans, those with a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injury, or use of steroid medications.

9 Most Important Medical Tests For Women

Preventive Health Screenings for Women

Mammograms, blood glucose tests, and Pap smears — these are just a few of the health exams that are essential to a woman’s health. Is it time for you to schedule one of these screenings?

This schedule is a suggested timeline for routine health screenings for healthy adults. These recommendations include those agreed upon by expert preventive health task forces such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and some recommended by advocacy groups, such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society. Talk with your health care provider for guidance on what’s best for you. More frequent screenings may be recommended based on your personal health history and your risk factors.

A woman’s health depends on a lot of factors. Every woman should make time for healthy habits — regular exercise, stress management, choosing the right foods — and she should also be scheduling routine health screenings so potential problems can be spotted early.

In fact, health screenings can make keeping tabs on your health simple.

So what screenings should you be getting? These 10 are a good start.

1. Blood pressure screening. Starting at age 18, every woman needs to have her blood pressure checked at least every two years. This health screening involves wrapping a cuff around the arm and pumping it up tightly. Ideal blood pressure for women is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). If your insurance doesn’t cover a blood pressure
screening (though most insurance companies do), check into free screenings in your community.



2. Cholesterol check. Women should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years starting at about age 20. This screening is important for decreasing your risk of heart disease, and can be done at your doctor’s office or at a lab with a doctor’s order, as the test only involves drawing a blood sample. Some community health fairs offer quick cholesterol screenings, involving nothing but a finger-prick. If you get a high reading on
this screening test, you will be referred to your doctor for more complete testing. The ideal level is below 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) for total cholesterol.

3. Pap smears and pelvic exams. Beginning at age 21, or earlier if you are sexually active, women need to have a pelvic exam and Pap smear every two years to check for any abnormalities in the reproductive system. Guidelines for this cervical cancer screening recently changed from once a year, as studies found no benefit to such frequent screenings. Barring any problems, women age 30 and older only need a Pap smear every three years if they have had three normal tests in a row. To take the Pap smear, a speculum is placed inside the vagina to widen the vaginal canal, and your doctor uses a small tool to take cells from the cervix to detect any cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer.

Your doctor can also screen for sexually transmitted diseases.

4. Mammograms and breast exams. Starting around age 20, women should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years until age 40, when this should be done annually, according to most experts. This is a manual exam — your doctor uses her fingers to examine the breasts for any lumps or abnormalities. A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer and involves applying moderate compression to the breasts so that X-ray images can be captured. Mammograms are done every one or two years beginning at age 40. (The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms beginning at age 50, but the American Cancer Society still recommends earlier screening.)

5. Bone density screen. Women should start getting screened for osteoporosis with a bone density test at age 65. Women with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as having a slender frame or a fractured bone, should be screened earlier. For this test, you lie on the table while a scanning machine takes X-ray images of certain bones in your body. Healthy bones show a T-score (the measurement used to describe your bone density) of -1 or higher. The frequency of this health screening varies from woman to woman based on bone density and risk factors.

6. Blood glucose tests. Women should get a blood glucose test every three years starting at age 45 to test for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Before age 45, you may need to have your blood glucose levels tested if you have symptoms of diabetes or several risk factors. Your blood sample can be taken and tested at your doctor’s office or a lab. The range of normal test results can vary, but generally a test result of 100 mg/dL or higher indicates pre-diabetes or diabetes.

7. Colon cancer screening. Colon cancer screening tests for women generally start at age 50. Depending on the type of test, you will have this health screening at a doctor’s office or a hospital. The more traditional tests are the flexible sigmoidoscopy, a procedure in which a lighted tube and camera are inserted through the anus to look at the lower part of the colon, and a colonoscopy, which involves a longer tube to examine the entire colon. Unless a problem is found, a flexible sigmoidoscopy needs to be repeated every 5 to 10 years and a colonoscopy only every 10 years. The non-invasive virtual colonoscopy is another option. People with a greater risk of colon cancer may need earlier or more frequent cancer screening tests.

8. Body mass index. A full yearly physical exam includes measurements of your height and weight and a calculation of your body mass index (BMI). You can also calculate your BMI at home using an online BMI calculator. BMI indicates obesity, which can assess the risk of serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

9. Skin examination. Women should examine their skin every month starting at age 18, and by the time they’re 20, a doctor or dermatologist should conduct the examination during a routine check-up. Women should carefully inspect the skin all over their bodies, looking for any new moles or changes to existing moles to spot the early signs of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology offers free skin cancer screenings from dermatologists.

10. Dental check-up. Good dental health is important from the moment your first baby tooth sprouts, and all adult women need twice-yearly dental check-ups and cleanings. Regular dental check-ups, which involve examining the teeth and sometimes taking X-rays, can keep teeth healthy and spot early signs of decay or any problems with the mouth or teeth.

Because these tests are considered preventive, many insurance plans cover them. However, there may be certain criteria that you have to meet, such as the reason for the test, the time elapsed since your last test, your age at the time of the test, whether the provider is in your plan’s network, and other rules. While vital for your continued good health, these tests can be expensive — so call your insurance company or check your plan’s certificate to determine coverage before making needed appointments.

Courtesy of Everydayhealth

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