Screening Tests for Men

Screening tests are designed to detect hidden disease in otherwise healthy people. Which ones you should have aren't set in stone—experts often disagree on when to start having these tests, how often they should be done, and when to stop.

A good guide comes from the United States Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts. Its recommendations help define high-quality preventive health care for Americans.

Keep in mind that the benefits and risks of screening tests and procedures change as you get older. Your doctor can help you tailor the recommendations below based on your goals of care, personal and family health history, age, and life expectancy.

Test

Recommendation

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Have a one-time ultrasound imaging of your heart and aorta (the large blood vessel that comes off the heart) between the ages of 65 and 75 if you have ever smoked.

Blood pressure

Have your blood pressured at least every once every two years if it is in the healthy range (under 120/80) or once a year if it is above normal (between 120/80 and 139/89).

Colorectal cancer

Recommended for men ages 50-75. Talk to your doctor about which screening test, (fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy) or combination of tests, is best for you and how often you need it and if you should continue having these tests after 75.

Diabetes

Get tested for diabetes if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medicine for high blood pressure.

HIV/AIDS

Get tested at least once for HIV/AIDS after age 20, or earlier if you are at high risk for being infected by the human immunodeficiency virus. Discuss further testing with your doctor.

Lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides)

Starting at age 35, all men should have their cholesterol checked regularly. Men at high risk for developing heart disease should start at age 20.

Lung cancer

Annual testing with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) between ages 55 and 80 if you have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Sexually transmitted infections (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis)

Get tested for chlamydia yearly through age 24 if you are sexually active. After age 25, get tested for chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases if you are at increased risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection.

Screening Tests for Men Articles

The risks of testing for hidden disease

Preventive health screening tests marketed directly to the public are often unnecessary and carry hidden risks. Defensive, just-in-case testing can lead to additional tests and procedures. Ultrasound scans of the neck for blockages, for example, are not recommended unless the person has possible symptoms of stroke. The best way to decide if screening tests are warranted is to have a discussion with a primary care doctor.  (Locked) More »

Testosterone testing is more flexible in older men

A study found that in men older than 45, afternoon testosterone measurements were nearly the same as those based on blood drawn in the early morning. In men younger than 45, morning and afternoon test results varied markedly. (Locked) More »

Testosterone therapy may not be as safe as once thought

Some older men use testosterone products to offset the decline in muscle strength and stamina that occurs with age. Gradually, the drug’s use has expanded to include younger men as well. Recent reports of blood clots in the veins indicate that testosterone therapy may not be as safe as once thought. Doctors are looking to the long history of hormone use in women to help understand the cardiovascular downside of testosterone medication.  (Locked) More »

Do older adults need colorectal cancer screenings?

Whether older adults should get routine colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings is debated. Some guidelines suggest that people should not get screenings past age 75 or 80. Some evidence shows the screenings are effective well into the 80s in previously unscreened patients with no other chronic conditions. For people older than 75, it’s best to weigh the risks and benefits of screening. A family history of CRC or precancerous polyps increase the risk for CRC and may be cause for a screening.  (Locked) More »

Measuring blood pressure at home: Keep it simple

Single measurements of blood pressure in the doctor’s office can be misleading. They may look higher or lower than they are in the person’s daily life. At-home measurements can produce a more accurate picture of a person’s blood pressure over time.  The information improves control of high blood pressure and helps to show the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Two measurements in the morning and evening for several days are usually sufficient to provide an accurate snapshot of the person’s average daily blood pressure. (Locked) More »

New drugs make treating hepatitis C faster and easier

Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to liver disease and cancer in a minority of infected people. An older drug therapy for HCV required oral drugs and weekly injections of a drug with potential for severe side effects and took up to a year. New drug regimens will dramatically reduce treatment duration and side effects while clearing the virus from the liver in a larger percentage of people. However, most people infected with HCV never progress to liver damage in their lifetimes, a fact that must be weighed against the emotional upset and potential stigma of a person being tested and finding out he is infected with the HCV virus. The cost of the new drugs is currently very high. (Locked) More »

Gene tests for some, not all

Certain inherited genetic conditions increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, so having a genetic test may show whether a person is at risk for heart disease, especially if a family member has one of the conditions. More »

Cholesterol testing at home: It may be faster, but is it better?

If you don't mind pricking a finger, you can check your cholesterol without sitting around in a doctor's waiting room or laboratory. Devices available in pharmacies or through the Internet make this easy to do at home. But is it worth doing? The makers of home cholesterol tests rightly tout their products as faster than visiting a doctor. You prick your finger, gently squeeze a few drops of blood onto a test strip or into a small "well," and you get the results in a few minutes, instead of waiting a few days. But faster isn't necessarily better. The results won't give you the information you need to figure out your risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem. Nor will they help you check whether a diet and exercise program is working. More »