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Lifesaving Health Tests for Men

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In Your 20s:

 

In your 20s, you’re finishing up school, starting your career and discovering your passions — and it’s not uncommon for your health to fall by the wayside. But it’s important to start screening for some diseases now.

 

 

Blood Sugar/Diabetes

Why you need it: Once thought to be something that happens only to adults, children and young teens are developing diabetes now. Like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, you can’t feel if your blood sugar is too high. In fact, about 7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes. Unchecked diabetes can lead to problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys and nerves.

What the test is like: Your doctor will likely check your blood sugar levels with a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test. The FPG test is a blood test that measures your blood glucose (blood sugar) after not eating for at least 8 hours.

When to start: While government guidelines recommend screening for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 mmHg or if you take medication for high blood pressure, many doctors now test it as part of a routine physical exam.

Learn how to stop diabetes before it starts.

 

Cholesterol

Why you need it: Your body needs some cholesterol to build healthy cells, but too much cholesterol can block the flow of blood through your arteries, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

What the test is like: Doctors use a blood test called a lipid panel to check your total cholesterol, LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, HDL (or “good”) cholesterol and triglyceride (a type of fat found in the bloodstream) levels.

When to start: Starting at age 20, get your cholesterol levels checked regularly if you smoke, are obese, have diabetes or high blood pressure, or have a family risk of heart disease or blocked arteries. A cholesterol test is typically included in your regular physical examination.

 

Skin Cancer

Why you need it: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. And it’s more common in men than women, with more than 8,000 men dying from melanoma each year. Men over 50 are more than twice as likely as women to get and die from skin cancer. However, if it’s caught early, skin cancer can be easy to treat and is rarely fatal.

What the test is like: During a screening, your doctor will examine your skin for any suspicious moles, and will look at your scalp, back, between your toes, even the tops of your ears — places you’re less likely to check on your own.

When to start: The American Cancer Society recommends that a man should have his first skin cancer screening starting at age 20. Continue to have your skin checked every three years until the age of 40, when you should go every year. If you’ve had previous skin cancers or are at a higher risk (like fair-skinned men who have a family history of the disease), your doctor may suggest you get checked more often. To be thorough, all men should also do a self-check on their skin on a monthly basis, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Learn about skin cancer, including how to spot a possibly problematic mole.

 

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