Skin Checks, Wellbeing
The typical Kiwi bloke isn’t renowned for seeing the doctor very often, but regular check-ups are essential to ensure that small health problems are found early – before they become big health problems.
That’s the message that Men’s Health NZ is trying to get across during Men’s Health month this June. They’ve developed a very useful interactive app on their website, which demonstrates what health issues men should be having checked, depending on their age bracket.
Well-known broadcaster and author, Phil Gifford, says men often don’t get help until it’s too late. In his book, Looking after your Nuts & Bolts – a Guide to Men’s Health, he states that too many men die of ill health for a very simple reason – they don’t go to the doctor.
That’s why it’s recommended that men have regular health check-ups with their GP – as well as a thorough skin check every year.
Regular ‘men’s health’ checks are a great way to keep tabs on your health, because your GP can spot signs of illness early when they’re easily treatable – and the more they see you, the better they’ll get to know you and your health history.
Your doctor will probably start things off with some questions such as whether you have anything troubling you at the moment, if you’re currently on medication and what health conditions run in your family. It’s important to share everything that’s concerning you – and don’t worry, there’s unlikely to be any problems that doctors haven’t heard before!
If you’ve noticed any lumps or moles you’re concerned about, or aches and pains, tell your doctor – or if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Your GP will check out all the usual health issues such as blood pressure, nerves and joints, skin, body mass, lungs, stomach, ears, nose and throat. Then he or she will carry out some more specific men’s checks, such as:
Hernia check: Your doctor might ask you to “turn your head and cough” to check for weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestine and balls.
Testicle check: Your doctor might feel for lumps and ask if you’ve noticed any change in size. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men under 40, but the good news is it’s rare.
Prostate check: Yes, it’s the dreaded ‘finger up your bum’ test to check for prostate size and lumps. This only needs to be done if you’re over 50, or earlier if you have a family history of prostate cancer or current problems with the waterworks.
PSA test: From age 40, high levels of Prostate Specific Antigen in your blood might be caused by an enlarged prostate, infection, or prostate cancer.
Cholesterol & blood sugar check: If your cholesterol is high or you have a family history of heart disease, you might need blood tests or further tests. If your glucose (sugar) levels are too high, you could develop diabetes.
Skin check: Ask your GP to check your skin thoroughly for any symptoms of skin cancer. Make sure you point out any moles or other skin abnormalities that concern you.
Remember that it’s very difficult to spot melanoma with the naked eye, so if there are any moles that concern you or your doctor, it’s a good idea to book a skin examination with a professional skin check service such as MoleMap. Find out more about our skin check services or book a skin check online.
Or click here to download a leaflet about men’s health in general.