Back to home June 2013
Breaking Down Men’s Preventative Health by Age Range
Keeping regular appointments with the primary care doctor is a good idea for everyone—men, women and children. Preventative care helps you stay in tune with your health. Historically, though, women have been better at preventative care than men.
“For the most part, guys tend to wait until something is bothering them before
they will do something about it, or they will only come in because their wife
or mother made them an appointment,” says
D. Thomas Harris, M.D., family medicine physician. “I do feel that is slowly changing over time, though, and men are buying into prevention as a good strategy.”
Dr. Harris breaks down men’s preventative care and medical tests into three categories based on age ranges.
“Most men in this age group feel well and have few active medical problems,” Dr. Harris says. “I usually recommend physicals every three or four years, and the focus is on prevention and counseling about safety issues—like wearing seatbelts, driving safely, practicing safe sex, not abusing alcohol or drugs and using sunblock. We also screen for conditions that may cause health problems down the road—like cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, for example.”
Dr. Harris says there are two types of cancers that he screens for in this age range—skin cancer and testicular cancer. “Skin cancer gets more common with age, and testicular cancer actually becomes much less common, particularly after the age of 35,” he says.
Safety issues are usually less common in this age range, but are still important, Dr. Harris says.
“Chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol become more prevalent,” Dr. Harris says. “For those men who didn’t take care of themselves in the previous decades, we start seeing the outcomes develop, like heart attacks and strokes. Physicals in this age range are usually recommended every two years. Cancer screenings now include colorectal and prostate cancer, in addition to skin cancer. Recommendations are to start colonoscopies—which screen for colorectal cancer—and prostate cancer screenings at the age of 50 for the average-risk patient. It could be earlier if there is a family history or additional risk factors.”
“New issues arise in the ‘wear and tear’ of aging—falls, driving safety, screening for dementia and arthritis, for example,” Dr. Harris says. “Cancer and chronic disease management continue the same as in the previous age range, but complications become more common. Additionally, many patients at this age have multiple health issues that play off each other, and the medications also become more complicated because of interactions.”
Dr. Harris says annual physicals are generally recommended for this age group. While this is a brief overview, Dr. Harris has easy, straightforward advice. “I think the best overall advice is to eat right, exercise regularly, keep your weight down and see your doctor for routine care,” he says.
“Men are buying into prevention as a good strategy, ” Dr. Harris says.
Older Men & PSA
D. Thomas Harris, M.D.
Family Medicine - Lee Physician Group
8960 Colonial Center Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33905