Health Screening Checklist for Men

What health screenings do men need?

Man speaking to his doctor

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Health screening tests are designed to help men identify illnesses early when action can be taken to prevent or minimize disease. 

These health screening tests are specifically chosen by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) because early detection can lead to prevention and treatment that saves lives. If saving your own life isn’t enough reason for you to get your scheduled screening tests, then think of your family or the money you can save the healthcare system by catching something early before expensive, high-tech procedures are needed.

About Health Screening Tests for Men

This list of tests was developed by the USPSTF. They used all the available scientific information to find the tests that work best, provide the most prevention/treatment benefit, and are easiest to do. Combine health screening tests with these guidelines for disease prevention and healthy living for the best result.

Talk to your doctor about which health screening tests apply to you and when and how often you should be tested. Be sure to set yourself up for success. Give yourself a reward for each test that you do, and make sure to keep good records of test results, dates and when you need the next test. Use this sample checklist for health screening tests.

Obesity

Calculating your body mass index (BMI) is one marker of health. To calculate your BMI, simply take your weight (in pounds) divided by your height squared (in inches). Take that number and multiply it by 703. Or use our BMI calculator:

If your BMI is 25 or greater, then you are considered overweight (unless you lift lots of weights or do body-building exercises). If your BMI is 30 or greater, then you are considered obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for many illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. You need to focus on losing weight. Note, however, that BMI should not be taken as the sole metric when measuring health, as it doesn't take into account muscle tone or bone density, or racial and sex differences.

High Cholesterol

According to the USPSTF: "The optimal interval for screening [for cholesterol and lipids] is uncertain. On the basis of other guidelines and expert opinion, reasonable options include every five years, shorter intervals for people who have lipid levels close to those warranting therapy, and longer intervals for those not at increased risk who have had repeatedly normal lipid levels."

Talk to your doctor about monitoring your cholesterol closely if you have a family history of high cholesterol or other personal risk factors, such as smoking or diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease. Cholesterol tests use a venous blood draw, but some screening events at workplaces and gyms are relatively non-invasive and use a simple pinprick. Take advantage of those periodic screening days, or ask your doctor to do the test.

High Blood Pressure

The 2015 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines recommend annual screening for hypertension for those 40 and older or who are at increased risk for high blood pressure, who are overweight, or African American. Adults ages 18 to 39 who do not meet those risk factors should be screened every three to five years.

If you get your pressure checked outside of your physician's office (say, by using a machine at a drugstore), and your blood pressure is 130/85 or above, make an appointment with your doctor and start working on lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure.

Colon Cancer

Unless you have a history of colon cancer in your family, you can wait until 50 to begin colon cancer screening. If you do have a history of colon cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about scheduling a colon cancer screening. A colon cancer screening could involve a colonoscopy. It's not a fun test, but it's a lot better than having to undergo chemotherapy and other treatments for advanced colon cancer if you don't catch it early.

Diabetes

If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, you should also be regularly tested for diabetes. This test is a simple blood test.

Skin Cancer

For skin cancer, you can do a lot by just paying attention to the moles on your body. Take a good look at each one and keep an eye out for any strange changes (see this skin cancer self-check for more information). Take pictures if you want, so you'll be able to show a doctor if things change. If you see any of the signs of skin cancer, make an appointment right away. If you have had excessive sun exposure, you may want to talk to a dermatologist to establish a baseline, but current recommendations do not see a benefit from annual full-body screenings for normal-risk people.

Prostate Cancer

Turns out that prostate cancer screening is controversial. Some experts believe all men should be screened, others believe only high-risk men should be screened while still others believe that prostate cancer screening isn't helpful at all. What should you do? You should talk to your doctor about this one and bring up your family history of prostate cancer.

Depression

Depression is often overlooked when talking about health screening tests for men. Depression is a serious medical condition that is often treatable with a combination of therapy and medication. USPSTF recommends routine depression screening for all adults, and screening is especially important for people with a family or personal history of depression.

The biggest sign of depression is feeling down and/or having little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks or more. If this description fits you, talk to your doctor about a more advanced screening test for depression.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

These infections include gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and others (see HIV below). If you are sexually active and in a non-monogamous relationship or with a new partner, consider being routinely screened for these tests, especially if you had any unprotected sexual encounters.

These screenings generally involved simple blood or urine tests and can be conducted confidentially. Remember, always use safer sex practices.

HIV

HIV is still a present and dangerous epidemic. Fortunately, new medications have greatly improved both the quality and quantity of life for people with HIV.

All adolescents and adults ages 13 to 64 years should be tested for HIV at least once, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV testing should be repeated annually at the very least if you have had any experiences that put you at increased risk, such as:

  • Unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • Having receptive or insertive anal intercourse
  • Injection drug use (past or present)
  • The exchange of sex for money (you or your partner)
  • Sex with a partner who is HIV-infected, bisexual or who used injection drugs
  • Current treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (but annual HIV testing after STI treatment is not necessary)
  • Blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985

HIV screening can be done with a simple blood test or a cheek (buccal) swab. Additionally, HIV tests can be purchased without a prescription at a drugstore and can be performed from the privacy of your own home. Results are confidential, and many resources exist for people living with HIV, including new medications and therapies.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked, or younger men with family history of abdominal aortic aneurysm need to be screened one time via ultrasound for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (basically, a blood vessel in your gut that is swollen).

Use this table as a guide for how to track your health screening tests, record the results and know when it is time to schedule the next round of testing.

Health Screening Checklist for Men

Test Last Test (mo/yr) Results Next Test Due (mo/yr) Questions for the Doctor
Weight (BMI)        
Cholesterol Total:        
HDL (good):        
LDL (bad):        
Blood pressure        
Colorectal cancer        
Diabetes        
Skin Cancer        
Prostate Cancer        
Sexually transmitted infections        
HIV Infection        
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (one-time test)     n/a (one-time event)  
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