Screening Information

Screening Tests for Men: What You Need and When

Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. These tests can save your life.

Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about testing for the conditions below. Talk to your doctor about which ones apply to you and when and how often you should be tested.

Prostate Health

According to the Illinois State Cancer Registry in 2017, 8,313 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in Illinois. Many men are unprepared for the health risks associated with the prostate. But early detection saves lives.

 

  • Prostate cancer screening is important. You should discuss with your doctor getting a prostatespecific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50.
  • Men at high risk, such as African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65), should begin testing at age 45.
  • Men at even higher risk – those with several first-degree relatives who had prostate cancer at an early age – could begin testing at age 40. Depending on the results of this initial test, further testing might not be needed until age 45.

Obesity

Being overweight or obese can damage your health. It increases your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, many cancers, and can lead to many other health problems. Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

If you are found to be overweight or obese, discuss what you can do to reduce your weight with your doctor.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and heart disease.

Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if:

  • You have diabetes.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • Heart disease runs in your family.
  • You smoke.

High Blood Pressure

According to recent estimates, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don't know they have it. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer." The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer when detected early can be very effectively treated. Getting screened can save your life.

Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 45. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.

Diabetes

Diabetes can increase your risk for blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, nervous system damage, and amputation of a limb. Nearly one third of those with diabetes don’t know they have it.

Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. If you are a member of one of these ethnic groups, you need to pay special attention to this test.

Most adults get pre-diabetes before they get diabetes. The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of adult diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.

Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Depression

Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt "down," sad, or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or other sexually transmitted diseases. If you are having unprotected sex with anyone other than a long-term monogamous partner or if you suspect your partner is not monogamous and you are having unprotected sex with them, you should ask your doctor about getting tested.

HIV

Talk to your doctor about HIV screening if you:

  • Have had unprotected sex with anyone other than a long-term monogamous partner.
  • Suspect your partner is not monogamous and you have had unprotected sex with them.
  • Are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
  • Have had sex with men since 1975.
  • Have used or now use injection drugs.
  • Exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
  • Have past or present sex partners who are HIV-infected, are bisexual, or use injection drugs.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An aneurysm is a widening of a blood vessel. The aorta is one of the large blood vessels that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. So an aortic aneurysm is a widening of this particular important blood vessel – a little like a bulge on an old tire. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are most common after age 60. Males are five times more likely than females to be affected. This means men over 60 are at highest risk to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Approximately 5% of men over age 60 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm is a catastrophe. It is highly lethal and is usually preceded by excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back, with tenderness of the aneurysm. Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm causes profuse bleeding and leads to shock. Death may rapidly follow. Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within five years. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S. An aortic aneurysm can be treated by surgery, so detection can save your life.

If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked (100 or more cigarettes during your lifetime), you need to be screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in your abdomen.

Recommended Screening Tests by Age

The following chart lists recommended screenings and immunizations for men at average risk for most diseases. These are guidelines only. Your health care provider will personalize the timing of each test and immunization to best meet your health care needs.

Screening Tests Ages 18-39 Ages 40-49 Ages 50-64 Ages 65 and Older
General health: Full checkup, perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health-related topics with doctor. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Blood tests and urinalysis: Screens for various illnesses and diseases (such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney or thyroid dysfunction) before symptoms occur. Every 3 years Every 2 years Every year Every year
Heart Health
Blood pressure test At least every 2 years At least every 2 years At least every 2 years At least every 2 years
Cholesterol test Start at age 20, discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
EKG (Electrocardiogram) Baseline at age 30 Every 4 years Every 3 years Every 3 years
Prostate Health
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)   Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) (blood test)   Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Reproductive Health
Testicular exam Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup.
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests Both partners should get tested for STDs, including HIV, before initiating sexual intercourse. Both partners should get tested for STDs, including HIV, before initiating sexual intercourse. Both partners should get tested for STDs, including HIV, before initiating sexual intercourse. Both partners should get tested for STDs, including HIV, before initiating sexual intercourse.
Chlamydia test Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Colorectal Health
Fecal occult blood test   Yearly starting at age 45. Before age 45, discuss with your doctor or nurse. Yearly Yearly
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (with fecal occult blood test is preferred)   Starting at age 45, every 5 years (if not having a colonoscopy). Before age 45, discuss with your doctor or nurse. Every 5 years (if not having a colonoscopy). Every 5 years (if not having a colonoscopy).
Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE)     Every 5-10 years (if not having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy). Every 5-10 years (if not having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy).
Colonoscopy   Starting at age 45, every 10 years. Before age 45, discuss with your doctor or nurse. Every 10 years Every 10 years
Rectal exam Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Every 5-10 years with each screening (sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or DCBE). Every 5-10 years with each screening (sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or DCBE).
Eye and Ear Health
Eye exam Get your eyes checked if you have problems or visual changes. Every 2-4 years Every 2-4 years Every 2-4 years
Hearing test Starting at age 18, then every 10 years. Every 10 years Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Skin Health
Mole exam Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every 3 years, starting at age 20. Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year. Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year. Monthly mole self-exam; by a doctor every year.
TB Skin Test (Should be done on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at direction of physician. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.) Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Oral health: Dental exam One-to-two times every year. One-to-two times every year. One-to-two times every year. One-to-two times every year.
Chest x-ray: Should be considered in smokers over the age of 45. The usefulness of this test on a yearly basis is debatable due to poor cure rates of lung cancer. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Mental health screening Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Immunizations
Influenza vaccine Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Yearly Yearly
Pneumococcal vaccine       One time only
Tetanus-Diphtheria Booster vaccine Every 10 years Every 10 years Every 10 years Every 10 years
Other Screenings and Exams
Breast (To find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages) Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup. Monthly self-exam; and part of a general checkup.
Bone health (Bone mineral density test. Testing is best done under the supervision of your physician.) Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Testosterone screening (Low testosterone symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and depression. Initial screening for symptoms with a questionnaire followed by a simple blood test.) Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.

Screening Test Checklist

Take this checklist with you to your doctor's office. Write down when you have any of the tests below. Talk to your doctor about your test results and write them down here. Ask when you should have the test next and record the date. If you think of questions for the doctor, write them down and bring them to your next visit.

Test Last Test Month/Year Results Next Test Due Month/Year Questions for the Doctor
Weight
(BMI)
       
Cholesterol
Total:
       
HDL
(good):
       
LDL
(bad):
       
Blood pressure        
Colorectal cancer
  • Hemoccult
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
       
Diabetes        
Eye exam        
Skin screening        
Oral screening        
Hearing test        
Sexually transmitted diseases (Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and other STDs)        
HIV infection        
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
(one-time test)
       
Rectal exam (hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems and prostate cancer)        
PSA blood test        
Chest X-ray        
EKG        
Kidney or Thyroid dysfunction        
Mental health screening        
Tetanus Booster        
Breast screening        
TB Skin Test        
Bone Health        
Testosterone Screening        

Should You Take Medicines to Prevent Disease?

Aspirin:

Ask your doctor about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you:

  • Are Older than 45
  • Are Younger than 45 and have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke

Immunizations:

Stay up-to-date with your immunizations:

  • Have a flu shot every year starting at least at age 50. If you are younger than 50, consult your doctor about a flu shot.
  • Have a pneumonia shot once after you turn 65. If you are younger, ask your doctor whether you need a pneumonia shot.
  • Have a tetanus shot every 10 years.

For more information on immunizations, see our Resources.