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26 October, 2018

Essential Men's Health Screenings

American men live shorter and less healthy lives than American women, dying five years younger than their wives and sisters on average. Despite this dire statistic, there are positive steps men can take to preserve their health. In addition to various lifestyle changes, a series of simple, radiological exams can detect diseases in its early stages, when they are most treatable. These essential screenings can help men take charge of their health and enjoy a better quality of life as they grow older.

Prostate MRI

Prostate MRI creates detailed images of the prostate gland using magnetic fields, radio waves, and a high-powered computer. Since 2009, this test has played an increasingly important role in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Using prostate MRI, doctors can determine the stage of a prostate cancer, estimate how quickly it will grow, and recommend an optimal course of treatment.

Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death among men in all racial and ethnic groups and the second most common cancer in men. Approximately 1 out of every 9 men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime.1 Men 45-50 should discuss prostate screening with their doctor, to see whether they might benefit from prostate MRI. Candidates are men who meet the following criteria:

  • Have elevated PSA levels

  • Have received a positive digital rectal scan

  • Have a known cancer that needs to be staged

  • Are planning for prostate

  • Are part of an active surveillance program

Low-Dose CT Lung Screening

Low-dose CT lung screenings are used to detect lung cancer. They are performed with low-dose X-rays to minimize the potential risk of ionizing radiation.

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in America, killing over 300,000 people each year. Incidences of lung cancer are more prevalent among men than women, mostly due to higher smoking rates. For men with a history of smoking, low-dose CT lung screening is a valuable tool and has been approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the following patients:

  • 55-77 years old

  • No visible symptoms of lung cancer

  • Who have smoked at least 30 pack years (The number of packs smoked per day multiplied by number of years smoked. A pack a day for 30 years is 30 pack years. Two packs a day for 15 years is 30 pack years)

  • Are current smokers or have quit within the past 15 years

CT Calcium Scoring

CT calcium scoring is an X-ray exam that checks for calcified plaque in arteries supplying blood to the heart - the major cause of coronary heart disease. Heart disease is the most common cause of death among American men and was responsible for one out of every four male deaths in 2013.2 Knowing a man’s calcium score helps doctors plan treatment and prescribe medication to manage the disease and its symptoms.

  • CT calcium scoring is recommended for men over 45 who have the following:

  • A history of smoking

  • A sedentary lifestyle

  • Diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Atherosclerosis (known plaque buildup)

  • High BMI (overweight or obese)

  • A family history of coronary heart disease

Scrotal Ultrasound

Scrotal ultrasound is the primary method for evaluating disorders of the scrotum, testicles, and epididymis (the tube next to the testicles that collects sperm). Physicians use scrotal ultrasound to:

  • Evaluate injuries to the testicles or scrotum

  • Diagnose a testicular torsion (twisted testicle)

  • Diagnose pain or swelling in the testicles or scrotum

  • Diagnose causes of infertility

  • Search for an undescended testicle

  • Determine the nature of a testicular lump (cancerous or benign)

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15-44. Rates of testicular cancer have increased over the past several decades, but the survival rate is high for men diagnosed in the early stages. A testicular lump or testicular swelling is normally the first sign of cancer and should be examined immediately by scrotal ultrasound.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Scan

An abdominal aortic aneurysm scan is used to assess the health of the aorta. The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body and runs from the heart down through the abdomen, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the major organs. If the artery becomes enlarged or swollen, there is a possibility it may rupture and cause an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which can be fatal. Early warning signs include:

  • Pulsing around the naval

  • Persistent, unexplained abdominal pain

  • Persistent, unexplained back pain

There are several factors that increase the likelihood of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, including age, family history, and sex. Men suffer four times as many aortic aneurysms as women. A major cause of aortic aneurysm is atherosclerosis (arterial buildup), same as in heart disease. Unfortunately, studies have found that testosterone is strongly correlated with high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and low levels of HDL (good cholesterol), which puts men at significantly higher risk simply due to their biology.3

Abdominal aortic aneurysm scans are performed with ultrasound, CT, or MRI, depending on the patient’s condition. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends men aged 65-75 with a history of smoking receive at least one abdominal aortic aneurysm scan to ensure their health. Men aged 65-75 with no history of smoking should talk to their doctor about their risk factors to see whether they might benefit from an aortic scan.4

DEXA Scan

A DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scan is used to measure bone loss and diagnose osteoporosis. Though osteoporosis is more common in women than men, men tend to suffer more serious consequences from the condition than women do. They not only experience hip fractures at a younger age, but are also more likely to die following a hip fracture than women. A Danish study on osteoporosis found 37.1 percent of men died within a year of receiving a hip fracture compared with 26.4 percent of women.5

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends men begin DEXA screening at age 70, if they have no major risk factors6 such as:

  • Previous bone fractures

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Low BMI

  • Steroid use

  • History of smoking

  • Heavy alcohol use

  • Endocrine disorder (e.g. hypothyroidism)

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Low Testosterone

  • Chronic diseases affecting the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines

Men with additional risk factors should discuss DEXA with their doctors, to see whether they might benefit from early screenings.

How to Stay Strong & Take Action

The best way for men to protect their health is to be proactive: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and discuss screenings with their doctor. Screenings help manage health conditions influenced by age and biology.

RadNet provides comprehensive screening services to men. The information provided by our radiologists allows men to address concerns at any stage with the most accurate information and advanced technology. Our centers are run by specialists: men and women trained to detect and diagnose illnesses in particular parts of the body. Their expertise allows for greater accuracy in diagnosis and more efficiency in their health plans. Our goal is to help you stay on top of your health, however we can.

References

  1. Prostate Cancer Foundation: What is Prostate Cancer?

  2. CDC: Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet

  3. Men’s Health Network: Men’s Health Facts

  4. U.S. Preventative Services Task Force: Final Recommendation Statement Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening

  5. Khaled A. Alswat. (2017) “Gender Disparities in Osteoporosis.” Journal of Vascular Surgery, 9(5), 382–387.

  6. AAFP: DEXA for Osteoporosis

26 October, 2018 | HOME

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