This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
When it comes to health concerns, men are less likely than women to go for routine doctor visits and seek preventative care.
Experts say that needs to change since many illnesses that men develop can be prevented by regular check-ups and screenings.
While a diagnosis is based on personal medical history and can vary from person to person, there are still common risk factors within certain age groups.
We spoke to experts to round up the top men's health concerns by age, and how men can be proactive to combat them.
Biggest health concerns for men in their 30s
Dr. Peter Bajic tells Yahoo Canada that even though it's rare, testicular cancer is a big concern for men in their 20s and 30s — and it's an important illness to identify early.
This type of cancer is oftentimes curable, especially when it’s caught early. According to Cleveland Clinic, 98 per cent of testicular cancer cases are curable. Risk factors include having an undescended testicle, being Caucasian and having a family history of the disease.
Testing: There is no standard screen test for testicular cancer. The disease is most often detected during a routine self-exam or a physical exam at the doctor’s office.
“I always encourage men to do testicular self-exams in the shower so they can understand what their baseline is like, and that way if there’s any kind of change, then they notice it and they can come and get evaluated,” explains Bajic, an assistant professor of urology in the centre for men’s health at Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute.
Once men hit their 30s, their bodies naturally start producing less testosterone. Side effects from certain medicines, testicle injuries and a low thyroid function can also cause a decrease in the hormone. Low testosterone can affect mood, sex drive and create changes in a person's muscle and fat.
Testing: A doctor can measure testosterone levels by conducting a blood test.
High cholesterol is a condition that occurs when you have too much cholesterol — a fatty, waxy substance — in your blood. It's unlikely someone will know they have high cholesterol until other health problems come up. The condition can be caused by lifestyle factors like smoking, stress, drinking alcohol, a lack of exercise and a poor diet. Men who have high cholesterol are also at risk of developing high blood pressure.
Testing: The Cleveland Clinic recommends that men get screened every five years until the age of 45, every one to two years between ages 45 to 65 as well as every year after the age of 65.
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Often called "the silent killer" because it typically doesn't present symptoms, hypertension — also known as high blood pressure — should be checked at every doctor's visit. High blood pressure can be caused by various factors, including ones you can’t control, such as age, ethnicity and sex. If hypertension is left undetected and uncontrolled, it can lead to serious conditions, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and sexual dysfunction.
"We know hypertension is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide," says Dr. Hassan Mir, a cardiologist with the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and University of Ottawa assistant professor.
Testing: Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is to have your blood pressure checked, understand the risks and make any necessary lifestyle changes.
Biggest health concerns for men in their 40s
Colorectal cancer (Colon cancer)
According to the Men’s Health Foundation, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men. Symptoms to watch out for include a change in bowel routine, a change in stool shape or appearance, blood with or around the stool, abdominal pain and weight loss. The best way to protect against colon cancer is to get regular screenings to identify any polyps, which are benign growths on the bowel's lining. Any polyps should be removed before turning cancerous.
Testing: If someone's not at high-risk for colon cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends people who are between the ages of 50 and 74 get a stool test every two years. After age 75, people can speak with their doctor about further care.
There are two ways to get screened for colon cancer, including a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which looks for blood in a person’s stool. The second test is a colonoscopy during which a doctor uses a tube with a camera to look into the bowel and check for any polyps. The American Cancer Society recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years or a virtual colonoscopy every five years.
Johns Hopkins Medicine says erectile dysfunction is diagnosed when a man persistently cannot achieve or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance.
According to the Urology Care Foundation in Maryland, it is the most common sex problem in men. Risk factors for the condition include issues with the prostate, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression.
Testing: There are a number of tests that can be done to diagnose erectile dysfunction, according to Mayo Clinic. Those options include taking a physical exam, blood test, urine test, an ultrasound or a psychological exam.
Some experts say that if a person haven't been tested for diabetes by the age of 40, now is the time to do so. The Cleveland Clinic indicates that a “high risk” candidate is someone who is overweight or obese, 45 or older and someone who has a first-degree relative with diabetes.
Testing: A blood glucose test screens for diabetes by measuring the amount of sugar in a person’s blood.
"You want to make sure you don't have diabetes or abnormal fasting glucose, and your lipid profile should absolutely be checked by the age of 40," Mir says.
Biggest health concerns for men in their 50s
This type of cancer can be treated successfully when it’s found early. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, men who are at higher risk include those with a family history of prostate cancer, as well as Black men who have African or Caribbean ancestry. Men should start getting screenings for prostate cancer starting in their 50s. If they have a family history of the cancer, doctors recommend getting screened as young as 45.
Testing: Bajic recommends men get a yearly blood test called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Another test is the digital rectal exam (DRE), which involves a doctor doing a physical examination of the prostate through the rectum. That one is also recommended annually for men between the ages of 50 and 70.
“[Prostate cancer is] such a slow-growing and slow-moving cancer, we don’t recommend screening after age 70 because the risks of doing so actually outweigh the benefits,” Bajic adds.
Upon age, it's important for people to monitor their heart health. The Government of Canada says heart disease is the second leading cause of death in the country, with men twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than women. Unfortunately, heart disease has silent symptoms, meaning people may not be diagnosed until they experience symptoms of a heart attack, arrythmia or heart failure.
High blood pressure, or hypertension are major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Other risk factors include being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol use and a lack of exercise.
Testing: An effective way to keep a healthy heart is to keep track of blood pressure and talk to a doctor about testing for diabetes.
Although bladder cancer can happen at any age, most people who are diagnosed are older than 55, according to Mayo Clinic. Risk factors include smoking, exposure to certain chemicals and chronic bladder inflammation.
People should seek medical help if they notice blood in their urine, if they have to urinate frequently or if it's painful when you urinating.
"A lot of these symptoms and conditions that men experience that may come with age like urinary issues, sexual issues, I think a lot of men simply think it’s a quality of life thing and that there’s not really more broader significance to these symptoms," Bajic explains. "I think it’s really important for men to know a lot of times they might be the only symptoms of a serious medical issue."
Testing: If bladder cancer is suspected, doctors may perform a physical exam or a blood test. If further testing is needed, doctors may require a urine test and a cystoscopy, which involves a tiny tube with a camera being inserted into the bladder through the urethra. The cystoscope can also be used to take a small tissue sample, or a biopsy, if testing points to bladder cancer.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as prostate gland enlargement, is not cancerous. But the older a person gets, the more likely they are to experience it.
"This is something that affects 50 per cent of men by age 50 and 80 per cent of men by age 80," Bajic says.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia can cause discomfort with its symptoms, which include the frequent need to urinate, increased frequency of urination at night, difficulty starting urination and the inability to completely empty the bladder.
Testing: Initial exams for BPH include a digital rectal exam, urine test, blood test and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Additional tests to confirm an enlarged prostate include a urinary flow test to measure the strength and amount of urine flow, as well as a postvoid residual volume test, which measures whether someone can completely empty their bladder. Doctors may recommend further testing if a patient's condition requires it. These tests may include a transrectal ultrasound, a prostate biopsy or a cystoscopy.
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) says people between the ages of 50 and 74 should be screened for lung cancer. That recommendation extends to anyone who has quit smoking in the last 15 years. It also includes people who have smoked 30 pack-years, which is defined as smoking one pack per day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
Smoking tobacco is the main cause of lung cancer, accounting for 72 per cent of lung cancer cases in Canada. Second-hand smoke, asbestos, outdoor air pollution and a personal or family history of lung cancer can also put someone at risk of lung cancer.
Testing: The recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography, also known as a low-dose CT scan or LDCT. During this scan a patient lies on a table while an X-ray machine uses a low dose of radiation to take images of their lungs. For anyone who falls under the three groups who are recommended to get screened, the CTFPHC advises a low-dose CT scan once each year for three years.
Biggest health concerns for men in their 60s
Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because it can progress with no symptoms until a fracture happens. This disease causes a person's skeleton to weaken and their bones to break. Although osteoporosis is more common in women, it's also a men’s health issue. By age 65 or 70, men and women experience loss of bone mass at the same rate. Chronic diseases affecting the kidneys and lungs, regular use of certain medications and an unhealthy lifestyle can all contribute to osteoporosis.
Testing: Osteoporosis Canada recommends all men who are 65 and older get a routine bone density test to check their bone strength. Doctors may also recommend blood and urine tests to rule out other health problems that may be causing bone loss.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)
An abdominal aortic aneurysm happens when someone has a bulge in the main artery that supplies blood to the rest of their body. Men over the age of 65 are the most likely to get AAA, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Additional risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.
Most people who have an AAA don’t have any symptoms until the aneurysm is close to rupturing. Symptoms may include persistent back, leg or abdominal pain, along with a pulsing sensation in the stomach. If a person experiences dizziness, fainting or a sudden and severe pain in their belly, lower back or legs, they are advised to seek medical attention.
Testing: Health care providers often detect AAA when performing tests for other health conditions. However, men should have a screening abdominal ultrasound at least once between the ages of 65 and 80 to check for an enlarged aorta.
Cataracts are a condition when the lens of a person's eye becomes cloudy. Although painless, cataracts block the passage of light to the retina, which can lead to vision loss. Most people start getting cataracts at age 40, but they may not notice symptoms until after age 60. As it develops, cataracts can cause a person's eyesight to become cloudy, blurry or unclear.
While age is a risk factor, cataracts can also be caused by sun exposure, a result of an eye injury or from certain medications.
Testing: Eye doctors can diagnose cataracts during a routine eye exam. In some cases, surgery may be required to fix impaired sight.
Biggest health concerns for men who are 70+
As people get older, they may begin to develop memory loss, which the National Institute of Aging says is a normal part of aging.
The Alzheimer Society of Canada (ASC) says for most people, the memory loss is so mild they can go about their daily lives. But for a small number of people, memory loss is caused by dementia. According to the ASC, more than 500,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia — and that's set to grow to more than 900,000 by 2030.
Testing: The best way to know if someone is affected by dementia or another serious memory problems is by talking to a doctor about getting tested. The ASC also has a toolkit to prepare people for a doctor’s visit.
Difficulties with hearing is another common problem that affects nearly half of people older than 75. It can be caused by factors like aging, noise and disease. The United States's National Institute on Aging (NIA) says older people who have problems with hearing may become depressed or they may withdraw from others because they feel frustrated and embarrassed. Moreover, the NIA indicates that it’s important to treat this medical issue because it can get worse if it’s ignored.
Testing: If a person believes they suffer from any type of hearing loss, it’s advised they speak to their family doctor who will be able to diagnose and treat the problem.
Urinary incontinence happens with a person accidentally leaks urine, often happening after laughing or coughing. While this condition is common in older adults, it can often be stopped or controlled.
Most incontinence in men is related to the prostate gland and can be caused by injury to nerves or muscles from surgery, an enlarged prostate gland or an inflammation of the prostate gland.
Testing: When testing for urinary incontinence, a doctor may start with a physical exam, a dipstick test (chemically tested stick dipped in your urine sample to check if bacteria is present) or a residual urine test (an ultrasound scan of your bladder).
If further testing is required, a doctor may perform a cystoscopy.
Recommendations for staying healthy
In order to stay healthy, experts recommend people have regular check-ups with a family doctor and pay attention to changes in their body.
Another beneficial step is that people ensure they're leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Mir stresses that exercise is important for everyone, but especially so as a person gets older.
“It [exercise] kind of acts like a radar system for you because the more you exercise, the more workload you put on the heart,” the cardiologist explains.
By doing this, he says someone who has a heart issue, or one that's developing, will notice symptoms much sooner, and it will prompt the person to get testing sooner rather than later.
Eating a well-balanced diet and cutting down on unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol is also recommended to help reduce the risk of many diseases.
People also shouldn't wait until they're older to make these healthier choices. Mir says it's a common misconception that choices you make in your 30s don't affect you later on because diseases and health issues can build up over time.
"Once you do get some sort of issue like heart disease, stroke, or clot in your peripheral artery, there can be irreversible damage that can forever impact your quality and quantity of life. The time to make healthier choices is now," he says.