Dads are known to give their all when it comes to supporting their family and friends, but in doing so they often neglect their own health. Maybe it’s just a stubborn streak or not wanting to take the time to visit their doctor – but men are notorious for not getting even a basic checkup.

Let’s face it, who likes to get a physical or blood tests or take a stress test or see the dentist or optometrist? No one I know.

But some dads may need a little extra prodding and a reminder that these medical visits are important. We want dad around for a long time.

There’s not a long list of tests that every man should have – but there are some very important ones that can help provide valuable health information. Not every man will need to have an annual exam, but as they age there are certain conditions they should keep an eye on.  Family and personal history can also dictate which tests are must haves and maybes.

When many of these conditions are caught early and treated they can either be managed or cured.  It’s when they are left unattended and have time to progress and damage the body that they can become life altering or even fatal.

Here’s a list of medical tests every man should have performed routinely.

  1. Blood Pressure - High blood pressure can cause serious organ damage or death. But screening for it is easy and reliable. It’s typically part of every exam when you see your doctor.  Testing at home should also become part of a weekly routine.
  2. Cholesterol – Checking the cholesterol level is a simple blood test taken after fasting for 8 hours and is recommended for all men 35 and older.  If a man has a family history of heart disease or is at risk for developing heart disease, starting at age 20 is recommended for testing.
  3. Colorectal cancer - Colon cancer kills more than 56,000 people every year. But the CDC says that nearly 60% of those deaths could be prevented if everyone was screened properly and treated appropriately. All men and women 50 and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. People at higher risk may need to be screened at a younger age. This includes people who have a close relative who had colorectal polyps or cancer or who have inflammatory bowel disease. There are several techniques for screening. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages for individual patients. The ideal interval between screenings depends on the test. But CDC data from 2005 suggest that nearly 42 million Americans over 50 have not yet been screened appropriately.
  4. Immunizations - Immunity can fade over time, and vaccine recommendations change over the years. For men over 50, a tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years. Flu shots are suggested every year for this age group. And a pneumococcal vaccine is recommended once at age 65.

There’s also a list of tests that a man may or may not need depending on his individual health. His doctor will be a guiding factor in determining need.

These tests are:

  1. Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer when caught early is very treatable. Tests for prostate cancer are somewhat controversial. Screenings are either a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) or digital rectal examination. While the PSA can detect prostate cancer in its early stages, it can also return many false positives. However, men should talk to their doctor about the relation between prostate cancer, age and family history. The PSA is most likely to benefit men aged 50 to 70. It can also be beneficial if you are over 45 and are at increased risk. 
  2. Diabetes – If you have a family history of diabetes are overweight or have a high risk life style for developing diabetes most doctors will want to test you for it.  Adult type-2 diabetes has increased over the last couple of generations. It can often be managed through lifestyle changes and medication.
  3. Skin cancer – Some doctors recommend a yearly exam by a dermatologist to check for changes in moles or for new moles that develop. Skin cancer is another condition that when caught early is typically treatable. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer but once again, if it is caught early it is almost always curable. If it is not it can spread to other parts of the body and can be fatal. It’s good to keep on top of any changes in the skin.
  4. Testicular cancer. Testicular cancer mainly affects young men, ages 20 to 39. Though testicular cancer is rare, it is curable if detected early. the American Cancer Society recommends a testicular exam “as part of a routine cancer-related checkup.”

Many a reluctant man has gone to the doctor because his wife or loved one pushed him to do it and has been grateful that he did. Early detection is the key to a good outcome.

So this June 16th, perhaps a gentle reminder in your card to dad about how much you want him healthy and around to celebrate many more Father’s Days isn’t a bad idea.

Happy Father’s Day from The Kid’s Dr.!

Source: Richard Sine,