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Routine Maintenance for Men

A schedule for checkups and tests that will keep a man's body in good running order.

At Six Months

Dental checkup

In addition to brushing and flossing, visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and complete checkup.

Annually

  • Get a flu shot.

You don't have to worry about your car catching something in a crowded parking lot. People, however, are prone to infectious diseases like influenza. Every year 5%-20% of the U.S. population comes down with the flu. The composition of the flu vaccine changes each year, so being vaccinated once is not enough. Get your shot in the fall, before the flu season peaks.

The specter of bird flu has been frightening people lately but don't take typical influenza too lightly. "People get extremely sick," Kellerman says. "I've had patients, even younger patients, die of influenza."

  • Check blood pressure.

    Keeping your blood pressure in the normal range is at least as important as keeping the correct air pressure in your tires. "Everybody ought to know their blood pressure," Kellerman says. Men over age 50 or those who have a family history of high blood pressure should have it checked at least every year.

  • Colon cancer screening

    Most routine colon cancer screening begins at the age of 50. On a yearly basis, doctors may provide special take-home tests to check for hidden blood in the stool.

  • Prostate cancer screening

    At the age of 50 most men may start screening for prostate cancer every year. Screening may begin at a younger age for those with higher risk, such as being African-American or having a family history of prostate cancer.

    The two types of tests are prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, and the digital rectal exam.

    Screening can catch prostate cancer early, but studies on whether early detection saves lives have shown mixed results. "The downside is that we may find a false positive," Kellerman says. That could mean having surgery that you don't actually need. "Sit down with your physician and discuss it," Kellerman says.

  • Full physical exam

    A routine yearly physical is a good time to touch base with your primary care provider about your health and preventive screening. It is also the time to give updates on your medical history and receive a thorough all-over exam.

At 5 Years

  • Get a cholesterol test.

For many men aged 20 and up, having a cholesterol test every five years is sufficient. If your cholesterol is found to be borderline or if you have heart disease or certain other medical conditions, then you would need to have it monitored more frequently.

  • Have a sigmoidoscopy.

    A sigmoidoscopy test may be done every five years. This is an option for colon cancer screening in conjunction with the stool tests that are done yearly.

    This test looks for cancer and polyps in the lower part of the colon that could turn cancerous. A suspect polyp or cancer may be biopsied, and a colonoscopy would be done to further evaluate the entire colon.

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