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Screening Tests for Men Archive
New drugs make treating hepatitis C faster and easier
In a minority of men, unchecked hepatitis C infection leads to liver damage or cancer. These drugs can quash the virus.
If you were born between 1945 and 1965, health experts now recommend that you be tested for infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Statistically, baby boomers are more likely than other adults to have HCV. The virus can remain in the liver for decades without causing symptoms. The damage it does can progress to fatal liver failure or cancer.
On call: Measuring the PSA Is fasting necessary?
Q. I have always had my blood tests taken the first thing in the morning, before I've had breakfast. We've just moved to a new home and I'll have a long commute to the hospital, so I'd like to eat before I start out. My cholesterol has always been great, so my doctor said a light breakfast won't interfere with cholesterol tests. But he didn't know if eating would change my PSA result. What do you think?
A. At last — a PSA question with a simple, un-equivocal answer: Breakfast will not affect your PSA result, nor will lunch or dinner. In June 2005, doctors proved the point by measuring PSA levels three times over the course of a single day in 80 patients with an average age of 62 years. The samples were obtained before breakfast, after breakfast, and after lunch — and there were no changes in the PSA results.
Cardiac exercise stress testing: What it can and cannot tell you
A cardiac stress test can determine your risk of heart disease, but often requires follow-up testing.
What can a cardiac stress test tell me about my heart? Once it was common for a man middle-aged or older to get an annual exercise stress test to make sure his heart was still ticking like a fine watch. But expert guidelines now discourage such "just in case" stress testing.
Is this trend against stress testing healthy for older men? We asked Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiology for the VA Boston Healthcare System, for insight into what an exercise stress test can and cannot tell you about your heart. With caveats, the procedure still has a valuable role to play in diagnosing worrisome symptoms like chest pain—especially in older men with risk factors for heart disease. "An exercise stress test is not 100% accurate—no medical test is," Dr. Bhatt says. "But it helps decide what the next step should be."
By the way, doctor: How often should I have a colonoscopy?
Q. How often should a healthy 55-year-old woman have a colonoscopy? Do the benefits outweigh the risk of complications, such as bowel perforation?
A. Colonoscopy is one of several tests used to screen for colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer and cause of cancer mortality (after breast and lung cancer) in American women. In 2018, some 140,000 Americans were diagnosed with the disease, and 50,000 died of it. Experts believe that adequate screening could have prevented perhaps 60% of those deaths.
Gene tests for some, not all
Genetic testing helps some people glimpse their cardiovascular future.
The announcement in April 2003 that scientists had worked out the order of the three billion letters in the human genetic code revved up the hopes and imaginations of many people, cardiologists included. Personal genetic report cards, mused a few, will someday help each of us better understand our heart disease risk and point the way to new treatments. They're right, of course. But "someday" will be a while coming "" the human genome isn't giving up its secrets easily, and some of what we're learning we don't quite know what to do with.
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.
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