June is Male Health Awareness Month. These are a few tests that are unique for men I suggest that they have these tests on a regular basis in order to maintain good health.
Testicular cancer is a young person’s disease. Please pay close attention to this section if you are between the ages of 15 and 40.
There’s a lot of media coverage for women getting regular mammograms and doing breast self-exams. Men need to examine their testicles as well.
Once a month, after you take your shower, roll each testicle around between your thumb and first two fingers. Look for any bumps, changes, hardness, heaviness, or an enlargement of the entire testicle. Also be on the lookout for changes in the skin of the scrotum. If you detect any of those changes, see a urologist and get it checked out.
It is unusual to find prostate cancer in men under the age of 50, but many men will have a diagnosis of prostate cancer by the time they are 70. For a lot of those men who are first diagnosed with prostate cancer after the age of 70, the cancer will grow very slowly and may not require treatment. The doctor will monitor the cancer with regular PSA and digital rectal exams to make sure it stays contained. Many men can live a healthy life with the diagnosis, but for some it can grow very quickly, spread beyond the prostate, and be life threatening. Nearly one-fifth of all men in the United States will eventually receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and many more may have prostate cancer because it goes undetected in men who show no symptoms. 3% of men with prostate cancer will die from the disease.
DRE: Digital Rectal Exam
The prostate gland can be physically checked to see if there might be cause for concern about cancer even when the patient has no symptoms. The Digital Rectal Exam is inexpensive, indicator of bumps or abnormal areas on the prostate gland, and you receive the results right after the examination. I suggest a DRE with every year between the ages of 50 and 80. The doctor can tell if your prostate is unusually large. This will tell you if the prostate is pressing against the bladder and causing frequent urination. Because of the mild discomfort of the DRE, it’s sometimes difficult to have men have the exam.
I know there is controversy over the PSA test, which is a blood test that measures the level of a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland when there is cancer—and sometimes when there is no cancer. In other words, the PSA Test sometimes has “false positives.” But by giving you both tests annually or every other year, your doctor can get a good idea of the likelihood that you might have a problem, and then you can discuss how serious the problem might be and what you can do about it.
Prevention of prostate cancer
I am also asked what can men do to prevent prostate cancer or if they have prostate cancer is there a diet that helps control prostate cancer. Evidence shows that the risk of prostate cancer is reduced by a diet that is lower in red meat, fat, and dairy products and higher in fruits and vegetables—especially broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale (all the cruciferous vegetables)—plus tomatoes. Such a diet, along with limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping body weight down, is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and other cancers as well.
Bottom Line: Men need to be involved in their healthcare. These few tests and suggestions are just a few suggestions that all men can and should do.