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Men's general health

7 screening tests every man must do

Dr. Lala .A.

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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.

1. Prostate Cancer
Is the most common cancer found in African men . It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer.
Tests for Prostate Cancer include; Digital rectal exam (DRE) Prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test.
These tests should be done at least once yearly in men above 40.

2. 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. Men should have routine physical examination of their testes at least once a year and those at higher risk (family history of testicular cancer or undescended testis) should have additional screening. You can also regularly check for lumps, swelling and change in the colour of the testicles.

3. 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. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. Regular checking of blood pressure and healthy living is key to preventing hypertension and its complications.

4. Cholesterol Levels
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries causing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries). This 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.
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).
Men should start regular screening from age 35, while those at increased risk should start screening from age 20.

5. Type 2 Diabetes
Many people have diabetes but 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, nerve damage, and impotence.
When diabetes is caught early, it can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications. Healthy adults should be screened 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.
Screening for Type 2 Diabetes include; Fasting blood sugar test, Glucose tolerance test, Glycated haemoglobin.

6. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s in the blood and other body secretions of infected individuals. It spreads from one person to another when these secretions come in contact with the vagina, anal area, eyes, or a break in the skin.
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, however a negative test does not rule out that a person has has HIV.
There is still no cure or vaccine. Modern treatments prevent HIV infection from becoming AIDS.
Abstinence or always using latex barriers such as a condom is necessary to avoid getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

7. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is one of a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis may be a temporary or long term condition. Hepatitis is transmitted via body fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal secretions. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
Screening tests include; serological tests for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc), liver enzyme tests.

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Dr. Lala .A. is a graduate of University of Ilorin who also holds a Diploma in Computer Engineering. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who aspires to be a plastic surgeon involved in creating awareness about women's rights and responsibilities and also training would be surgeons. She is a proud member of various reputable bodies including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI). She loves to read, write, sleep and play the drums in her spare time.