Men's Health Month: Essential screenings that can save your life

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(Source: Oleg Dudko via 123RF) (Source: Oleg Dudko via 123RF)

By Dr. Daniel Jaffee, Affiliated Urologists

(SPECIAL TO "GOOD MORNING ARIZONA") -- June is Men's Health Month and a good time for men to take stock of their health. Many men are apprehensive about seeing their doctor and wait until symptoms become too bothersome or worrisome to ignore. But there are some essential screening tests that can and should be done before symptoms are apparent to detect diseases at an early stage. Screening tests allow medical professionals to treat conditions before diseases progress to a more harmful state and can ultimately save lives.

In some cases, screenings give us information so we can advise our patients to make lifestyle changes. For example, a lipid screening is done with a simple blood test and can provide important information about cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood and subsequent risk for heart attack or stroke. A colonoscopy is another important screening test to detect the presence of colon cancer or polyps, which may develop into cancer. Just last week, the American Cancer Society issued a recommendation that adults undergo screening for the disease beginning at age 45 rather than 50.

[READ MORE: Colon and rectal cancer screenings should start at 45, new guidelines say]

As a urologist, my focus is on the urological health of my male patients. The PSA test is a simple blood test that determines levels of the prostate-specific antigen protein. An elevated PSA can be a sign of prostate cancer. But elevated PSA can also be caused by other conditions like inflammation of the prostate or enlarged prostate. Enlarged prostate typically causes bothersome urinary symptoms including interrupted sleep or the urgency to urinate often, so if a man suspects he has an enlarged prostate, there's a very simple online questionnaire that men can take from the comfort of home. If a man scores high on the IPSS, chances are he is noticing symptoms of enlarged prostate already.

[RESOURCE: BPH Symptom Score]

[READ MORE: Doctors have new advice on prostate cancer screenings]

In the case of enlarged prostate, men should not avoid seeking medical attention out of fear or anxiety. Bothersome urinary symptoms can interfere with everyday life, whether it's at work, while sleeping, watching a game or traveling. I frequently perform prostatic urethral lift treatments for men with enlarged prostate. The treatment offers significant improvements and can be done in the office under local anesthesia in less than an hour.  

There are many important screenings to have done and depending on your personal health history, your doctor may recommend more frequent screenings.

No doubt it takes time out of busy schedules to visit your doctor. But staying up-to-date on screenings can improve your health and even save your life.

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