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Your Basic Health Maintenance Plan

Men's and Senior Health

A Real Man's Test

Prostate Exam: Guys, there are many opinions on screening recommendations for the early detection of prostate cancer. Even so, don't be embarrassed to discuss the prostate exam with your physician. The 1997 guidelines by the American Urological Assocation suggest that all men over 50 get a digital rectal exam and a PSA (blood test). If prostate cancer runs in the family, then males at age 40 should get a digital rectal examination and a PSA. Further follow-up screening is based upon the results, your personal philosophy and health history.

The Senior Crowd

Immunizations: Adults 65 or older should be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. Those with heart, liver or lung disease, or those with cancer or who take medications that lower the body's natural defense system, may need the vaccination at an earlier age.

It's also important to keep up to date with your other vaccinations, including a tetanus/diphtheria booster (needed at least once every 10 years), and to ask if you need the hepatitis B vaccination, or the influenza vaccine.

Lastly, ask your healthcare professional when you should be screened for diabetes and whether you're due for a thyroid check. A base-line screening bloodtest called a TSH is often recommended at age 50, especially for women.

Follow Up On Your Tests

Don't assume everything is normal if you don't hear from your physician. Take charge of your own health. Follow up on the results of any tests you get, and make sure you understand the results and what they mean for your health.

Remember, you are the CEO of your personal healthcare. The key to a healthier you is prevention. Of course, everyone is different, but the recommendations I've just laid out will get you started on the path to health.

Copyright 2003, Dr. Rob Danoff

Robert Danoff, D.O., M.S., is a family physician. He is program director of Family Practice Residency Frankford Hospitals, Jefferson Health System, Philadelphia, Pa. He also is a medical correspondent for The Comcast Network, CN8, contributing writer to the New York Times and writes a weekly medical column for the Bucks Courier Times, Bucks County Pa.