Health checks every men should do

Men should have frequent health checkups. Medical check-ups assist you in maintaining good health, allow you to discuss any concerns, and detect sickness or illness early on. When treated early, conditions like cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, and some malignancies can have their complications and progression minimized or prevented.

Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, any family history of illness, and your lifestyle when you have a checkup. They will inquire about your eating habits, weight, level of exercise, and habits such as drinking or smoking. A certain disease may be more likely to occur in you if you have a lot of risk factors. Your doctor may be able to detect early warning signs with routine checkups. For instance, elevated blood pressure could be an indication of cardiovascular disease before it manifests.

Top five health checks for all men

Prostate cancer

The prostate is a little organ with a walnut-like form that is a part of a man’s reproductive system. One in nine men will develop prostate cancer, making it a relatively prevalent disease. The most prevalent cancer in men other than skin is prostate cancer. The National Cancer Registry (NCR) estimates that the lifetime risk of cancer diagnosis for South African men is 1:19. Although prostate cancer is uncommon before the age of 50, your age, race, and family history may increase your risk of getting the disease.

A male reproductive gland about the size of a walnut, the prostate is situated next to the bladder. Some forms of prostate cancer are more aggressive and can spread quickly without treatment, although most develop extremely slowly and may not pose a serious threat. A weak or interrupted urinary system, blood discovered in the urine or semen, frequent urination, especially at night, trouble initiating and halting urination, and a painful or burning sensation while urinating or ejaculating are signs to watch for.

Men no longer have to fear a rectal examination, says CANSA, thanks to this prostate cancer screening. “Annual prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing is essential to help detect prostate cancer early, through a simple blood test,” says Prof Riana Bornman, senior research professor at the University of Pretoria’s School of Health Systems and Public Health. Not everyone with prostate cancer experiences symptoms. Many times, a doctor will find the earliest indications of prostate cancer during a normal check-up.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include the following

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs

Skin cancer

The most prevalent cancer in the world is skin cancer, and South Africa has one of the highest monitored ultraviolet (UV) levels, contributing to one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Particularly in the warm climate of South Africa, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Less than one-third of cases are diagnosed by doctors. The key to surviving skin cancer is early identification, and a monthly self-exam will help you see any new or altering moles and lesions. According to CANSA: “Sunburn can occur within 15 minutes, and the damage caused is permanent, irreversible and adds up with each exposure to the sun.”

Check your skin once a month. You should see a doctor right away if you see any irregularly shaped moles, a change in the color of moles, or pigmented skin lesions. To establish whether your skin changes are likely to be skin cancer, your doctor may examine your skin. Your doctor might take the suspicious-appearing skin off if it is essential for lab analysis. If you have skin cancer, a biopsy can identify the type of skin cancer you have and help you treat it.

Melanoma (malignant melanoma) and non-melanoma are the two main types of skin cancer. The incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been rising over the past few decades, and the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that a 10% fall in ozone levels will result in an extra 300,000 non-melanoma and 4,500 melanoma skin cancer cases globally. The most frequent types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) were detected in 22 712 South Africans in 2019 while melanoma cases increased to over 2 166 people, according to the National Cancer Registry (NCR).

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in South African men, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 168, and the sixth most common cancer in women, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 266 (NCR 2019), indicating a rise in the total incidence of skin cancer. This can be the result of enhanced screening processes or a general rise in these numbers.

Heart disease

Narrowed or clogged blood vessels, which can cause a heart attack, are referred to as heart (cardiovascular) disease. Males’s health issues that are most frequently experienced by men include heart disease. The South African Heart and Stroke Foundation provides the following details:

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in South Africa after HIV/AIDS.
  • More South Africans die of CVD than of all the cancers combined.
  • CVD is responsible for almost one in six deaths (17.3%) in South Africa.

Although a person may have evident signs of heart disease that are easily recognisable, at other times, however, it’s possible to develop heart disease without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. How to keep tabs on it? Know your blood pressure.High blood pressure is a severe warning sign for heart disease, which continues to be the leading cause of death in both men and women. You may easily get your blood pressure checked at your local pharmacy clinic or by seeing your doctor.To measure your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels and earn tier points, schedule a basic medical test at any Dis-Chem or Clicks drugstore.

Colon cancer

According to the NCR, colorectal cancer, also known as colon or rectum cancer, is the second most frequent cancer and affects one in 79 men in South Africa. Although colon cancer is thought to be the most prevalent type of gastrointestinal cancer, it is a disease that can be treated and avoided. When symptoms do appear, they include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, stomach pain, weakness, and weight loss. Symptoms are absent in the early stages. According to CANSA, the most significant cause of the recent fall in colorectal cancer in affluent nations is early identification through widely used screening programs.

Based on a recent study, for those who don’t have any risk factors for the disease, an annual stool test may be just as effective as a colonoscopy in detecting colon cancer. Starting at age 50 and repeated every 10 years depending on the individual’s risk factors, CANSA promotes early identification and screening with a colonoscopy. The majority of CANSA Care Centers perform faecal occult blood tests, which search for microscopic blood in the feces that could indicate an intestinal growth, inflammation, or bleeding.


In early stages symptoms are not present, however when they do occur, they may include:

  • change in bowel habits (diarrhoea / constipation / consistency of stools)
  • rectal bleeding or blood in stools
  • persistent abdominal discomfort (cramps, gas or pain not related to diet)
  • a feeling that the bowel does not completely empty
  • weakness or fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss

Depending on the person’s risk factors, CANSA promotes colonoscopies as a form of early detection and screening beginning at age 50 and repeated every 10 years. A colonoscopy may also be performed if atypical symptoms are felt, and it may be done earlier if there is a family history of colorectal cancer. Faecal Occult home stool tests (R100) are available from CANSA and can be completed there. CANSA offers a referral letter to request a colonoscopy if the test for the presence of blood in the stool is positive (visible red line on test strip).

Testicular cancer

Although uncommon compared to other cancers, this one affects men between the ages of 15 and 35 most frequently. The most typical symptoms include testicular swelling or a lump that feels heavy, testicular discomfort or a dull soreness, or a sudden buildup of fluid in the scrotum. The good news is that this type of cancer has a favorable prognosis and is fairly curable. One month of self-examination is advised, especially if you have a family history of testicular cancer, says Dr. Louis Boshoff, a medical advisor at Sanlam. “Most testicular cancers can be detected early – a lump or swelling may be the first sign that a medical practitioner should be consulted,” says CANSA. “Men from the age of 15 to 49 need to examine their testicles each month, preferably after a bath or shower, to feel for any pea-sized lumps that could indicate testicular cancer.” According to the 2019 National Cancer Registry, there is a 1 in 1 578 lifetime chance for testicular cancer in men in South Africa.The majority of testicular cancers are detectable early; a lump or swelling could be the first indication that a doctor should be contacted. Young men should begin checking their testicles soon after reaching puberty. Every month, particularly after a bath or shower, men between the ages of 15 and 49 should feel their testicles for any pea-sized lumps that might be signs of testicular cancer.

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