Important health tests every man should have

As they age, men tend to develop a fear of the tests they should be having regularly. It's time to take control.

03 June 2014
by Andreas Wilson-Späth

Don't be one of the men who only goes to the doctor when something is horribly wrong. After all, prevention is always better than cure, which is why it's essential that you take control of your health and have annual health check-ups, as well as check-ups corresponding to the stage of life you're in.

Consult your doctor for advice on which medical checks you should have, and how frequently, to help you assess risks of possible future medical problems and detect any diseases at an early stage.

Testing for prostate cancer

Perhaps the most dreaded of these screening tests is that for prostate cancer. Many a manly bloke has trembled at the thought of the “digital rectal exam”, but that should no longer worry you: These days, a simple finger prick blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) can be used to effectively screen for prostate cancer, helping to detect the disease early, when treatment is most effective.

All men should go for annual prostate cancer checks from the age of 50. Those with a family history of the disease should consider starting yearly screening from 40.

At Clicks Clinics you can have a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test, which determines the PSA levels in your blood, says Clicks Clinic Sister Aisha George at in Claremont, Cape Town. "Elevated PSA levels may be indicative of various prostate conditions, including prostate cancer. This finger-prick test of practically painless and takes about 10 minutes. If your levels are elevated, you will be referred to a doctor for comprehensive investigation," she says.

More crucial health tests available at Clicks Clinics

Blood pressure readings: High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and more. Have yours checked every two years if you have normal blood pressure (lower than 120/80) and annually if it’s higher or if you suffer from heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes.

Diabetes: Go for glucose testing regularly if your blood pressure is above 135/80, or if you take medicine for high blood pressure. High levels of blood sugar are not only a warning signal for diabetes but can also lead to heart, brain, eye, kidney and nerve trouble.

Body mass index (BMI): Speak to your Clicks clinic sister about weight loss management with meal and exercise plans to suit you if your BMI exceeds the normal range of 18.5 to 25.

Cholesterol tests: You should have your cholesterol levels annually from the age of 35, but from as early as 20 if you smoke, have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or are obese.

HIV/AIDS: If you're sexually active, it's a good idea to get tested regularly no matter how safe you think you are. But it's especially important if you've had unprotected sex (oral, anal or vaginal) or if your condom broke.

Other significant HIV/AIDS risk factors include using illegal intravenous drugs (sharing needles for drugs like heroin) and contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, or hepatitis.

To book an appointment for any of these tests or screenings, call 0860 254 257 or book an appointment with Clicks Clinics online. HIV testing is offered along with counselling services.

Other important tests men should have regularly

Testicular cancer: Check each testicle for lumps by gently rolling it between thumb and forefinger after a warm shower.

Colorectal cancer: Start regular screening from 50, but as early as your 20s if there is a family history.

Skin cancer: Monitor any changes in the colour, size and shape of skin marks and consult a dermatologist with concerns.

• Eye exam: Test your eyes every two years; screening for glaucoma and cataracts from 50.

• Dental exam: You should have this at least once a year.