What You Need To Know About Men’s Health


Hi, I’m Dr. Scholz. Let’s talk about… Men’s
health. We’ve been covering prostate cancer now in
an extended series, and it’s probably becoming clear now that prostate cancer is more like
a chronic condition than an actual cancer. Many serious cancers can be deadly within
months of diagnosis. I was seeing a new patient yesterday with a Teal stage prostate cancer—a
60-year-old man—and he was quite nervous about his diagnosis and we had gone through
a lot of different issues, and he said, “Bottom-line Dr. Scholz. What’s my chance of dying?” And
I said, “I estimate that the risk of mortality for his Teal stage prostate cancer maybe 1%
at 10 years.” He practically fell out of his chair. He thought that he was facing imminent
mortality with his prostate cancer. And that’s really the root basis of this discussion
today, talking about the annual physical exam which takes on added importance if you’re
going to live a long time. What a shame to beat prostate cancer and end up succumbing
to some other condition that was preventable. I find patients are often confused about what
an annual physical exam consists of. They talk about a panel of blood tests like its
a standardized format, and it’s not. It may simply be a couple tests of your liver and
kidneys or it may be a much more extensive test that covers vitamins and function of
your red count, and we’re going to post an actual list of the types of blood tests that
should be included in your annual physical so that you can do a checklist and find out
if all the important things are being covered. Apart from those components, the blood tests
and the urine tests, that should all be done once a year, there’s some other things that
should be looked into to make sure that a preventable illness doesn’t cause you to die
of something that you could have fixed. So let me quickly list some of the things that
we check in our patients to make sure that they don’t die of heart disease or a preventable
cancer. First, a CT scan for coronary artery calcium
score. This is a 3-minute scan; it doesn’t involve any injections or IV’s, and they can
monitor whether there is plaque forming on the coronary arteries. Doctors can use this
information to decide if you need a cholesterol pill, whether you need any interventions to
prevent heart disease. I recommend this every five years, 5-7 years in our patients. What about smokers? Men who smoke tobacco
are obviously at risk of lung cancer. If lung cancer is diagnosed after it spreads, there’s
really no way to cure it. But the CT scans of the chest, done on an annual basis in smokers,
can detect lung cancers at a curable stage: when they’re small nodules. Everyone who smokes—if
you have a family member who smokes—needs to be encouraged to get a CT scan of the lungs
once a year. Colon cancer is another preventable cause.
Historically, people have undergone scopes every 10 years. There is a new test out now
called Cologuard, a stool test that can be done every three years which can detect colon
cancer as well, and that’s a far easier test than going through a whole scoping procedure. A subject that’s come up in our prostate cancer
patients who go on hormone therapy is loss of calcium from the bones called osteoporosis.
If that becomes notable people can develop hip fractures and those are preventable with
a variety of different medications. A simple scan, once again, of the hip with either a
DEXA scan or a QCT can detect this at an early stage. The problem with these things that
we’re describing is that they all tend to be free of symptoms until something is broken
or something is irreversible. This is the point of the annual physical exam: To screen
for preventable things when everything seems fine to make sure that something doesn’t sneak
up on you. Two last things that I want to mention. One
is a new vaccination for shingles. Shingles will occur in one out of three of us in our
lifetimes. It’s a nasty condition, but what people don’t know is that about 10% of the
time, it never goes away. You can be left with life long pain and this is preventable
with a new vaccine called Shingrix. It’s a two-part vaccine. You can pick it up at the
pharmacy. Just go in and say, “I want a vaccine.” You don’t even need a prescription from your
doctor. The last thing that can be overlooked is an
annual eye examination. People who wear glasses or contacts are forced into doing this and
that’s great, but those of us that aren’t seeing an eye doctor regularly still need
to go in for an annual visit. Why? A condition called glaucoma which is a silent increase
in ocular pressure that, if it goes undetected, it can cause irreversible loss of vision without
you knowing its occurring. So everyone should get an annual eye check whether you are seeing
the doctor for eyeglasses or contacts or not. One last thing that shouldn’t be overlooked
during the annual physical is to have the physician check your skin. Look on the soles
of your feet; look on your back; you can even ask your family members to do this. Especially
here in southern California where we get a lot of sun exposure. Dark pigmented lesions
need to be vigilantly watched and possibly biopsied. The concern, of course, is melanoma.
Melanoma is not that common, but if it spreads we don’t have any way to cure it. It can be
cured if it’s detected at an early stage. So this summarizes what we consider the annual
physical exam which is important for our prostate cancer patients because they’re going to live
a long time. We did a whole webinar that went into greater detail that is posted on our
Youtube channel if you want to look into this further. Thanks for watching. Subscribe to our Youtube
channel for more of these videos and visit our website which has a wealth of information
about prostate cancer.

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