Screening Tests for Men: What You Need and When

June 1, 2013

Screening Tests for Men: What You Need and When

Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. These tests can save your life.

Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about testing for the conditions below. Talk to your doctor about which ones apply to you and when and how often you should be tested.

Prostate Health:
In 2008, it is projected that 8,340 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in Illinois. Many men are unprepared for the health risks associated with the prostate. But early detection saves lives.

  • Prostate cancer screening is important. You should discuss with your doctor getting a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50.
  • Men at high risk, such as African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65), should begin testing at age 45.
  • Men at even higher risk – those with several first-degree relatives who had prostate cancer at an early age – could begin testing at age 40. Depending on the results of this initial test, further testing might not be needed until age 45.


Being overweight or obese can damage your health. It increases your chances of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, many cancers and can lead to many other health problems.

Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated to screen for obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. You can also find your own BMI with the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at:

If you are found to be overweight or obese, discuss what you can do to reduce your weight with your doctor.

High Cholesterol:
High cholesterol can lead to heart attacks and heart disease.

Have your cholesterol checked regularly starting at age 35. If you are younger than 35, talk to your doctor about whether to have your cholesterol checked if:

  • You have diabetes.
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • Heart disease runs in your family.
  • You smoke.

High Blood Pressure:
According to recent estimates, about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don't know they have it. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer." The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.

Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

Colorectal Cancer:
Colorectal cancer when detected early can be very effectively treated. Getting screened can save your life.

Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.


Diabetes can increase your risk for blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, nervous system damage and amputation of a limb. Nearly one third of those with diabetes don’t know they have it. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you are a member of one of these ethnic groups, you need to pay special attention to this test.

Most adults get pre-diabetes before they get diabetes. The good news is that the recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program study conclusively showed that people with pre-diabetes can prevent the development of adult diabetes by making changes in their diet and increasing their level of physical activity.

Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt "down," sad, or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.

Sexually Transmitted Infections:
Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be tested for HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia or other sexually transmitted diseases. If you are having unprotected sex with anyone other than a long term monogamous partner or if you suspect your partner is not monogamous and you are having unprotected sex with them, you should ask your doctor about getting tested.

Talk to your doctor about HIV screening if you:

  • Have had unprotected sex with anyone other than a long term monogamous partner.
  • Suspect your partner is not monogamous and you have had unprotected sex with them


  • Are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
  • Had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
  • Have had sex with men since 1975.
  • Have used or now use injection drugs.
  • Exchange sex for money or drugs or have sex partners who do.
  • Have past or present sex partners who are HIV-infected, are bisexual or use injection drugs.


Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm:
An aneurysm is a widening of a blood vessel. The aorta is one of the large blood vessels that takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. So an aortic aneurysm is a widening of this particular important blood vessel – a little like a bulge on an old tire. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are most common after age 60. Males are 5 times more likely than females to be affected. This means men over 60 are at highest risk to develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Approximately 5% of men over age 60 develop an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm is a catastrophe. It is highly lethal and is usually preceded by excruciating pain in the lower abdomen and back, with tenderness of the aneurysm. Rupture of an abdominal aneurysm causes profuse bleeding and leads to shock. Death may rapidly follow. Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within 5 years. Abdominal aortic aneurysms are the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S. But an aortic aneurysm can be treated by surgery and so detection can save your life.

If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever smoked (100 or more cigarettes during your lifetime), you need to be screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in your abdomen.