Men’s Health Month: Important Screenings Men Should Get

June is National Men’s Health Month and an opportunity for men to think about their health needs. This includes routine screenings that are important when getting an overview of their overall health and wellbeing, but it’s often that men don’t always seek these screenings.

“Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more likely to seek preventative care than men, but we also know that men have a high incidence of disease from potentially preventable illnesses,” said Dr. David Pohl, primary care physician at McLaren Greater Lansing Family Medicine. “The purpose of preventative visits and screenings is to check for signs of these disorders before they become a bigger problem.”

Generally, healthy adult males between the ages of 18 and 40 should see their primary care provider once a year or every two years. After 40, it is recommended to have visits at least yearly along with several screening tests to check for risk factors such as heart disease and diabetes that often increase as men get older.

Common routine screenings and tests include blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, prostate screening for cancer (PSA), and colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.

Blood Pressure Screening

Blood pressure screening should be done at least once a year. A normal blood pressure range is less than 120 for the top number (systolic) which measures the pressure the blood is pushing against artery walls when the heart beats, and under 80 for the bottom number (diastolic) which measures the pressure the blood is pushing against artery walls in between beats.

“Knowing your blood pressure — and treating it if it is high — not only helps lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, but also the risk of long-term heart and kidney damage,” said Dr. Pohl.


Like blood pressure, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke as well. Regular cholesterol screenings, done with a simple blood test, typically begin between the ages of 20 and 35.

 “Too much cholesterol can get deposited in the blood vessels increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr. Pohl. “Cholesterol targets vary depending on personal and family medical histories, but for the most part we want to see a total cholesterol under 200 with an HDL over 40 and an LDL around 100.”

Diabetes Screening

“Diabetes is a condition with how the body handles blood sugar, which is our main source of energy,” said Dr. Pohl. “If blood sugar remains too high for too long, it causes damage to blood vessels, organs, nerves, and can predispose the patient to other medical conditions such as heart attack and infections.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, adults over age 45 should begin screening for diabetes regardless of risk factors. For those who have additional risk factors and are overweight or obese are recommended to screen at an earlier age. During this screening, a fasting plasma glucose test or hemoglobin A1C is done to measure your average blood glucose. Anything greater than or equal to 6.5% is considered diabetic. 

Prostate Screening

This screening includes a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and at times, a digital rectal exam. Men should consider getting screened between the ages of 45 and 55 or earlier if they have an increased risk of prostate cancer or a family history of prostate cancer.

Colon Cancer Screening

Colon cancer is the third leading type of cancer for both men and women and the second leading cause of death in the U.S. Recently, recommendations have been lowered for colon cancer screenings to age 45 from 50 in attempts to catch or prevent these cancers sooner.

“The two main tests for colon cancer screening now are a colonoscopy or an at-home stool test,” said Dr. Pohl. “Colonoscopies are considered the gold standard of screening, but both have benefits, so you should discuss which one may be better for you with your primary care provider.”

Dr. Pohl provides primary care and sports medicine health services at McLaren Greater Lansing Family Medicine North. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pohl, click here. For a full list of providers at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

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