LTB – Seven Health Checks For Men

1. BOWEL CANCER WHY? The third most prevalent cancer in men, with more than18,000 new cases each year. SYMPTOMS: Blood or mucous in your stools, changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea, constipation or both) which last more than six weeks, still needing the toilet after going, stomach cramps or tenderness and weight loss. THE TEST: Check symptoms with GP, who will give you a rectal exam and ask for a sample. They may refer you for hospital tests – perhaps an X-ray and colonoscopy (tube into your bottom to check bowel). The NHS is rolling out national bowel-cancer screening for over 60s. WHERE TO GO: Your GP. HOW OFTEN? If there is a family history of bowel cancer, get checked every two years.

2. TESTICULAR CANCER WHY? The most common cancer in men under 35, with around 2,000 cases diagnosed every year. SYMPTOMS: Check for swelling or pea-sized, hard lumps on the front or side of the testicles. A dull ache or sharp pain in this area? See your GP. THE TEST: The GP could send you for a painless ultrasound scan on both testicles and often a blood test to identify raised levels of certain hormones. WHERE TO GO: Your GP who will refer you to a hospital specialist if necessary. HOW OFTEN? Cancer Research UK recommends examining the testicles once a month to spot changes.

3. BLOOD PRESSURE WHY? Persistent, untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, strokes and kidney disease. SYMPTOMS: High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms, so the only way to know is to get checked. THE TEST: Using an arm pump, your GP takes a pressure measurement of two numbers. Blood pressure readings have two numbers, for example 140/90mmHg. The top number is your systolic blood pressure (the highest pressure when your heart beats and pushes the blood round your body). The bottom one is your diastolic blood pressure (the lowest pressure when your heart relaxes between beats).  90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure.  More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. Follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it at this level.  More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle.  140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension). Change your lifestyle – see your doctor or nurse and take any medicines they may give you. Persistent high blood pressure can increase your risk of a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. Because the risk of heart attack and stroke goes up as a person’s blood pressure rises, it is best to try to lower your blood pressure as even a small amount can help lower the risk. Someone with high blood pressure is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the future as someone with normal blood pressure so, the lower you can get your blood pressure, the better. WHERE TO GO: Your GP and some pharmacies. HOW OFTEN? Every three years, yearly if it is high or someone in your family has high blood pressure.

4. EYES WHY? Glaucoma, which causes increased pressure in the eye is more common in men and if left untreated can lead to blindness. If you have diabetes, a high level of short sightedness or migraines, you are at higher risk. SYMPTOMS: The build-up in pressure is very slow, so visual loss is gradual. THE TEST: An ophthalmologist will examine your eyes using a special machine. It takes just a few minutes. WHERE TO GO: Your local optician. HOW OFTEN? Men over 40 should get an annual eye check.

5. PROSTATE CANCER WHY? It is the most commonly found cancer in all men, with 35,000 new cases each year. SYMPTOMS: Difficulty in passing urine, needing to go more frequently and a feeling of not emptying the bladder. Also: pain in the back, hips or pelvis, impotence and, very rarely, blood in the urine or semen. THE TEST: Your GP will do a rectal exam, a blood test for raised hormones and possibly refer you for a biopsy. WHERE TO GO: Your GP. HOW OFTEN? Cancer charities recommend that men over 50 get themselves checked once a year.

6. DIABETES WHY? There are about two million people who have Type 2 Diabetes and up to half a million more may have it without realising. Men are at higher risk. SYMPTOMS: Constant thirst, passing large amounts of urine, tiredness and weight loss. But sometimes there are no obvious symptoms. THE TEST: Your GP can do a simple glucose blood test. WHERE TO GO: Your GP. HOW OFTEN? If you are over 40, overweight or have a family history of diabetes, get checked once a year.

7. CHOLESTEROL WHY? High cholesterol can lead to heart disease. SYMPTOMS: There are no symptoms as such, but if you eat a diet high in saturated fat, are overweight or have a family history of heart disease, you need to be checked. THE TEST: A blood sample, taken after fasting, is used to measure cholesterol levels. WHERE TO GO: Your GP and some high street pharmacies will test cholesterol. HOW OFTEN? Yearly if you have high cholesterol or it runs in the family.

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