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Tue, Oct. 22

Checkups every guy should get - no excuses allowed

I'd rather be fishing. I'd rather be golfing. I'd rather be running. I'd rather be playing with my kids.

Let's face it - there are many things you'd rather be doing than going to the doctor for a checkup. But taking time to assess your overall health with a physician each year is important. It could even save your life so you can keep doing all the activities you enjoy.

If you're a man - or a woman who is concerned about the health of your husband, father, grandfather, son or other male loved one - you'll want to be aware of these recommended checkups, screenings and immunizations for men. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and you should check with your doctor for a schedule that's right for you.

• Physical exam. A once-a-year exam by a primary care physician may include an assessment of height, weight, blood pressure, skin cancer risk, eating and exercise habits, and emotional well-being. The doctor will ask about your family health history and answers any questions you have about your health concerns.

• Immunizations. Men should get a flu shot every year and a tetanus-diptheria and pertussis (Tdap) booster every 10 years. Your doctor may recommend other vaccines depending on your age and health history.

• Eye exam. If you have problems with vision, you should schedule an eye exam every two years.

• Dental exam. Don't forget to visit the dentist every year for an exam and cleaning.

• Cholesterol screening. Most men should be checked every five years. You may need to be monitored more closely if you have high cholesterol or risk factors for heart disease or diabetes.

• Diabetes screening. If you are age 45 or older and overweight, of if you have other risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you be tested for diabetes.

• Colon cancer screening. Starting at age 50, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy or other screening test for colon cancer.

• Prostate cancer screening. Men age 50 and older may benefit from prostate cancer screening. African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer may begin screening earlier, at age 45.

• Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. If you're 65 to 75, an ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm could save your life. This test is especially important for men who have ever smoked cigarettes.

• Hearing test. Your doctor may screen for hearing loss and suggest ways to protect the hearing you have, as well as recommend hearing-aid devices if needed.

These are general guidelines and are not intended as medical advice. Talk to your doctor about screening tests that may be right for you. Sources: National Institute of Health, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association.

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