Special Report

24 Medical Tests Every Man Should Have and When

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16. Lung cancer
> When to get tested: Adults ages 55 to 80 years

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer among both men and women in the United States. It’s difficult to detect in early stages. Partially as a result, more than half of the patients die within a year of being diagnosed. More men than women are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and men are slightly more likely to die from the disease. The age-adjusted death rate is higher for men than for women, at 46.7 lung cancer deaths per 100,000 men and 31.9 per 100,000 women, respectively.

A low-dose computed tomography (a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT) is the only lung cancer screening test recommended by the CDC. Asymptomatic people with a history of smoking and people who are between 55 and 80 should be screened every year, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

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17. Hepatitis B
> When to get tested: Anytime unless vaccinated

Hepatitis B, a viral infection that attacks the liver, affects men more severely than women. Men are more than twice as likely to develop liver disease such as cirrhosis or liver cancer as a result of having hepatitis B infection. It’s yet unclear why this is the case. A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B, but it’s recommended, not required.

About 80,000 Americans become infected every year with hepatitis B. Screening with a basic blood test is recommended for adolescents and adults at high risk of chronic infection. People at higher risk include those who share needles, gay men, medical workers exposed to human blood, and those who have traveled to regions with high hepatitis B infections.

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18. Thyroid
> When to get tested: After 60

Thyroid problems, which are screened for with a blood test, are caused by either too many or too few thyroid hormones produced by the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck. The thyroid plays a role in many vital body functions such as heart rate and metabolism, and it helps regulate mood, muscle strength, body weight, energy levels, and cholesterol, to name a few.

Though more women than men have thyroid disease, including thyroid cancer, it is fast-rising cancer in men, and they usually have a worse prognosis, according to the American Thyroid Association. About 12,000 men (and 35,000 women) get thyroid cancer a year, and more than 900 men (and 1,100 women) die from the disease every year in the United States.

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19. Vitamin D
> When to get tested: Only in individuals at risk for deficiency

Vitamin D, which is called the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces it when the sun’s ultraviolet rays come in contact with the skin, helps the body absorb calcium and sustain strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several cancers, heart disease, depression, muscle pain, diabetes, and infections. People with dark skin are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as the darker the skin, the more sun it needs to absorb to produce enough vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency is common in older men and is prevalent in obese, sedentary men living at higher latitudes. Vitamin D levels are checked with a simple blood test that can be part of a routine medical exam.

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20. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
> When to get tested: After 50

Fecal occult blood test, which is sometimes used to detect colorectal cancer at early stages, is a lab test used to check stool samples for hidden blood. The test may also indicate ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease.

The National Cancer Institute recommends that people get regular screenings for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If the test is positive, a doctor may recommend a colonoscopy. A FOBT test is recommended every year, while a stool DNA test, which checks for blood and genetic changes that may be signs of cancer, should be done every three years.