Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, and as we look forward to celebrating the dads in our life, it’s important to understand that based on the current statistics, men tend to neglect their health the most.
Golfing, fishing, hunting, playing sports or spending the day with kids and grandkids are all things we enjoy with the men in our lives. But what if their current health choices will limit their ability to do the things they love for years to come?
There are many reasons why men may neglect their health and avoid seeing a physician regularly, but men need to understand that many diseases can be prevented if caught early enough. To avoid serious health issues, men should begin by scheduling annual exams with a primary care physician.
Rishi Rajan, M.D., a physician at East Alabama Urology Associates, explains that men’s health is about taking ownership of decisions that affect your health.
“I explain to my patients that there are many things in life we have no control over,” Dr. Rajan says. “We can’t control our genetics or, to some extent, our environment. We can, however, control what we put in our body, the medications we take, how much physical activity we participate in, and to some extent, how much stress we experience in our daily lives. It’s so important to focus on those things and take ownership of your health.”
Dr. Rajan notes that men are often fearful of the exams that are involved in screening for certain diseases.
“Men are afraid of digital rectal exams, but what they may not understand is that rectal exams, along with other screenings, are not necessarily recommended every year.
"Most importantly, men need to understand that if something is wrong, the earlier disease is detected, the better chance of prevention, management, and options available.”
PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood testing, which is used to screen for prostate cancer, is something that men should consider and ask their primary care physician about.
Prostate cancer is common among men, with the American Cancer Society estimating that approximately one man in seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer.
“There is some controversy about PSA tests among physicians,” Dr. Rajan says. “The key to understanding if and when you need a PSA blood test will be determined after talking to your doctor. Ultimately, each patient should be involved with their primary care physician in the decision of whether they are a candidate for a PSA blood test.”
Dr. Rajan recommends checking PSA between the ages of 50 and 70.
“If you don’t have prostate cancer after 70, then generally, it’s reasonable to forgo testing moving forward,” Dr. Rajan says. “For African-American patients, or those with a family history, they should potentially start screening earlier and more frequently.”
Dr. Rajan explains that there are many different treatment options if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer including radiation, surgery and even observation.
“Many options are available for treatment, including observation, known as active surveillance, which is becoming a very viable option for patients with prostate cancer,” Dr. Rajan says.
“Not every prostate cancer needs to be treated. It can still be a very dangerous disease, but some prostate cancers are very low grade and can be observed before taking a more invasive action.”
For many men, maintaining a healthy diet is a challenge for various reasons.
There are a number of different approaches that lead to men successfully losing weight and lowering their risk for heart disease and diabetes, along with many other diseases.
Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in men in the United States, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These diseases can often be prevented if men are proactive about their health by getting the necessary tests and making healthy lifestyle choices.
There is no need for men to be fearful about visiting a physician.
Get screened, know your status and know where you are with your health. Start by going to your family physician, discuss your personal risk factors that are unique to you and make a wellness plan that is individualized for your family history, personal risk factors and lifestyle.