washingtonpost.com
What To Do In Your...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

20s:

Arrange for a complete physical every five years, which should include:

· Cholesterol profile

· Blood pressure check

· Testicular cancer screening (Young men should also perform monthly self-exams.)

· Waist measurement and height and weight measurements to calculate your body mass index, or BMI

· Most physicians also recommend a complete blood count, a blood sugar test and a urinalysis.

· Get an adult-type tetanus-pertussis-diphtheria booster (and follow up every 10 years).

· See your dentist every six to 12 months.

30s:

Sign up for complete physicals, which should repeat the tests conducted in your 20s, but every three years instead of every five. At 35 you can stop testicular exams.

40s:

Get a complete physical every two years. Also,

· Schedule a baseline EKG at 40; repeat it periodically.

· Take a fasting blood sugar test at 45, then every three years.

· Start skin cancer screening, with additional exams by a dermatologist for men at high risk.

50s:

It's time to make your complete physical an annual event. Your regular health-care schedule should from now on include these four important additions:

· Colon cancer screening, which should take one of four approaches: Annual fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) with colonoscopy for a positive test. FOBT plus sigmoidoscopy every five years. Colonoscopy every 10 years. Double-contrast barium enema every five to 10 years.

· Prostate cancer screening. The physician should discuss the pros and cons of annual PSA blood tests and digital rectal exams with individual patients.

· Eye exams by a specialist

· Annual flu shot

60s:

In addition to maintaining the pattern established in your 50s, ask your doctor about a shingles shot. Also, get the pneumonia vaccine. At 65, men who have ever smoked should get an abdominal aortic ultrasound.

70s:

From here on out, you can keep doing what you've been doing. After all, you've made it this far. . . .

Better still, when you hit age 75, you can delete prostate cancer screening from your checklist.

And if some of this sounds a little familiar, it's probably because you've heard it before. One of the challenges of primary care, according to Harvey B. Simon, who compiled this information for the Health section, is persuading men to get regular physicals. Simon should know. He is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the editor of Harvard Men's Health Watch.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company