When we’re buying a new car or choosing the latest tech gadget, most of us are proactive. We may spend hours studying reviews, verifying data and asking questions. When it comes to our own health, though, we tend to take a more casual approach—potentially ignoring minor symptoms and putting off self-care and annual check-ups.
During June, Men’s Health Month, healthcare professionals remind men that serious diseases can be detected early through routine medical visits and screenings. When a condition is discovered in the initial stages, the odds are more promising for effective treatment and full recovery. To maintain good health and peace of mind, make it a priority to schedule a yearly physical that includes routine blood tests, a detailed health history and other recommended screenings.
For a full understanding about the state of their health, clinicians recommend men have a frank discussion with doctors: voicing concerns, asking questions and establishing next steps to safeguard their well-being.
Six Questions to Ask Your Doctor During Your Annual Exam
If you are a healthy young man, you may think an annual check-up is unnecessary—but that isn’t the case. The observations and tests that accompany an annual exam establish baseline values and become a key part of your medical record. Your doctor uses this information to monitor and evaluate future changes. Annual exams are also an opportunity to learn about risk factors for disease and develop a cooperative relationship with your clinician so the two of you work toward the same goals.
To help you get the most out of your yearly physical, here are six questions you may wish to discuss with your medical team.
- Does My Family History Put Me at Risk for Disease?
Modern research and data compilation reveal strong genetic and lifestyle links to certain diseases, including:
- Prostate cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colon cancer
- Alzheimer’s disease
Talk to your doctor about close relatives with these diseases and ask if family history puts you at higher risk for developing these conditions. Would you benefit from early and more frequent screening and monitoring because of this increased risk? Are there lifestyle choices like weight loss and smoking cessation that could make a difference?
- What Screenings Should I Have at My Age?
Your risk for certain conditions like prostate cancer increases with age. Ask your doctor about established guidelines for first-time screenings and follow-ups. This knowledge could keep you from delaying tests at times when your health is most vulnerable.
- What Do Blood tests & PSA Test Results Mean?
Lab test results are usually shown in comparison with established norms. A reading that is higher or lower than the norms could indicate potential health problems. Ask your physician to explain the implications of results that fall outside normal levels and the steps you can take to improve these results. Usually, treatment for a specific condition like diabetes or an enlarged prostate will bring future test results closer to the normal range.
- How Often Should I Follow Up a Normal Screening?
A normal screening result for cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension or PSA is good news, but it doesn’t mean you will never have a problem with these conditions. Discuss the frequency of future screenings to monitor your well-being, and inquire whether your doctor’s office will contact you with a reminder when tests are due.
- Will Low Testosterone & Erectile Dysfunction Affect Me as I Age?
Many men experience loss of vitality and occasional erectile dysfunction as they age. If you have concerns about your sexual health, discuss them with your doctor at an annual exam. Worry, aging and underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension can play a role in sexual performance. Your doctor has a variety of treatments to restore your health and ease your mind.
- What Future Procedures or Treatments Should I Schedule?
Before you leave your annual exam, make sure you understand your doctor’s best advice to maintain your health. Become a proactive participant in your health plan by following through with additional recommended testing, consultations or lifestyle changes.
Why Guess When You Can Know? Find Out Your Risk for Aggressive Prostate Cancer
An abnormal PSA is often followed by a prostate biopsy due to the risk of finding prostate cancer. However, PSA has poor specificity for aggressive prostate cancer, resulting in many low risk men getting biopsies that could have been avoided. Today, the 4Kscore Test offers a less invasive alternative, as a simple blood test that provides the individual patient’s risk of aggressive prostate cancer after an abnormal PSA, and prior to making a biopsy decision.
Abnormal PSA readings often result from non-threatening conditions that do not warrant biopsy and its potential side effects. A series of clinical studies has confirmed that the 4Kscore Test accurately identifies men at low risk for aggressive prostate cancer who can safely be monitored instead of proceeding to biopsy. Read about these studies on the blog and learn more about the benefits of 4Kscore testing for your health and peace of mind at 4kscore.com.