June is Men’s Health Month, a national observance that raises awareness about health care for men. It is also the month during which we celebrate Father’s day, making June the perfect time to celebrate and remind the dads in your life about the importance of a regular checkup and cancer screenings. The best gift you can give dad is the encouragement for him to lead a healthy lifestyle all year round.
Get regular checkups. Annual visits to a primary care physician are recommended to make sure that blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are appropriate to minimize the risk of diseases and help detect problems before they become serious. Encouraging dad to get a routine physical is taking the right step to improve his chances of a living a longer, healthier life.
Take part in screenings. Cancer screenings aim to detect cancer before the body shows symptoms. For men in particular, it is recommended that colorectal cancer screening, which includes colonoscopy and other forms of visual tests, start at age 50. Additionally, men may want to consider prostate cancer screening. This includes a digital rectal exam and/or a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The general recommendation has been for low risk men to begin this screening at age 50. Additionally, men should consider taking part in lung and skin cancer screenings as early detection is an effective way to reduce mortality and improve outcomes in these types of cancer.
Discussing a regular screening regimen with one’s primary care physician, where factors like family history and overall health history can be part of the conversation, is the best way to keep dad healthy.
Focus on heart health. When it comes to men’s health, improving and maintaining cardiovascular health is key. The most important steps for men to take to help maintain a healthy heart fall into one of two main categories: Remaining physically active and maintaining a healthy diet. To keep your heart healthy, 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week is recommended, according to the American Heart Association.
Find ways to manage stress. Stress negatively impacts health, increasing risk of heart disease, depression, and other health issues. This is more important than ever in the current stressors created by the COVID 19 pandemic and its related concerns. Identify sources of stress and take time to do things to manage it, such as exercising, meditation and time management.
Learn more. Resources are available through Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and ScreenNJ about early cancer detection and screening. Visit our Cancer Prevention Resource Center to learn about risk factors and other information that can be useful in speaking to health care providers about screening.
Biren Saraiya, MD, is a medical oncologist in the Urologic Oncology Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.