Preventive health care is a multifaceted approach to a healthy lifestyle that incorporates various strategies to reduce risk for illness and disease. Screenings are a vital component of preventive care, even for yoaung men. Regardless of how fit a young man is or how healthy he feels, these screenings should be part of health care regimens for all men between the ages of 18 and 39.

  • Blood pressure: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDOH) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) urge men between the ages of 18 and 39 to have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. Many men already have their blood pressure checked during annual wellness visits, which all men should schedule regardless of their fitness levels and overall health. Men with preexisting conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and kidney problems, may need more frequent blood pressure screenings. In addition, annual screenings are recommended if the top number is between 120 and 139 and/or the lower number is between 80 and 89.
  • Cholesterol: Men with no known risk factors for coronary heart disease are urged to get annual cholesterol screenings beginning at age 35. Men with known risk factors should begin receiving annual screenings at age 20. More frequent screenings might be necessary for individuals with diabetes, kidney problems, or heart disease.

  • Diabetes: Risk factors and warning signs will dictate if men between the ages of 18 and 39 require diabetes screening. For example, the U.S. National Library of Medicine (USNLM) notes that a BMI over 25 is considered overweight, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Men who fall into this category should be screened for diabetes starting at age 35. (The USNLM urges Asian American men to be screened if their BMI exceeds 23). Providers also may test men’s blood sugar levels if their blood pressure is 120/80 or higher and/or if they have a first degree relative with diabetes or a history of heart disease.

  • Infectious disease: The USNLM urges all individuals, including healthy young men, to be tested for hep C, an infectious disease caused by the HCV virus that primarily affects the liver, at least once between the ages of 18 and 79. Doctors also may recommend additional screenings for sexually active young men, who may be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and other infections.

  • Testicular cancer: The National Cancer Institute reports that testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 34. The USNLM advises against testicular self-exams, so young men should discuss testicular cancer screenings with their physicians, especially if they notice any changes in the size or shape of their testicles.

  • Dental checkup: Men are encouraged to visit the dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. Dentists can determine if more frequent visits are necessary.

Preventive health care is vital for everyone, including men between the ages of 18 and 39. 

Man giving thumbs up

There’s a lot of discussion about certain cancer screenings, like mammograms, colonoscopies and skin checks (as there should be). But what about screening for lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.?  

To find out more about lung cancer screening, we sat down with Dr. Yaron Perry, a thoracic surgeon with Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative, Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the University at Buffalo, and Medical Director of Comprehensive Center for Thoracic Malignancies and the Co-Director of Robotic Surgery.


Q: Who should be screened for lung cancer?

A: First and foremost, long-time smokers. If You are between the ages of 50-80 years old and you’ve smoked for 20 or more pack years, most insurance companies will cover lung cancer screening because it’s so important to have done. A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. For example, a person could have a 20 pack-year history by smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years.

Next would be kids and spouses of smokers who have lived in the home with second-hand smoke for 20 or more years. Their risk of developing cancer is almost as high as if they were smoking themselves. We’ll get into more on that in a minute. 

The third group of people for whom lung cancer screening is important would be those who have been exposed to cancer-causing materials in the workplace, like asbestos, silica dust, and diesel engine exhaust. 

Currently there is no Insurance coverage for lung cancer screening for those exposed to second-hand smoke and workplace risk factors varies, but many plans consider both groups high-risk and may offer coverage. Check with your insurance provider before scheduling a screening appointment. 


Q: I’m a smoker, but I feel fine. Can’t I just wait and see my doctor if I start to feel sick?

A: No. The best way to cure lung cancer is to find it early. But the time symptoms appear, it’s really too late. People who fall into the high-risk categories I mentioned really need to be pro-active about lung screening to give themselves the best chance at a long, healthy life. 


Q: What are the risks to people who live with smokers?

A: Second-hand smoke is almost as dangerous as smoking yourself. In fact, in parts of China, most women don’t smoke but their husbands do—and the rates of lung cancer are relatively high in Asian women mainly because of the second-hand exposure inside the home. Spouses, children, and even pets of smokers are at risk of developing infections and cancers of the airways and lungs from the cigarette smoke they inhale inside of the house. 


Q: What about e-cigarettes and marijuana—are they risk factors for lung cancer?

A: The short answer is we’re not sure yet, but probably. The American Cancer Society considers both to be uncertain or unproven risks for lung cancer. But if you think about what’s happening when people use e-cigarettes or smoke pot, they’re still putting things into their lungs that aren’t supposed to be there. 

The THC itself in marijuana may not be harmful, but it’s still plant matter that’s being burned and inhaled like a cigarette. The technology behind vaping creates a vapor that carries a finer particulate than smoke, which allows the substances to be inhaled deeper into parts of the lungs that are even more delicate and susceptible to harm. 

We’ll know more in 10 to 20 years when researchers can look at the data and determine the long-term effects of these habits. I don’t consider either of them safe, especially because both are marketed toward young people. Starting unhealthy habits earlier just increases the risk of long-term damage and disease. 


Q: How do doctors screen for lung cancer?

A: We use a technology called low-dose computed tomography, or a low-dose CT scan. It’s a non-invasive imaging procedure with less radiation than a routine chest x-ray 20 years ago. During the scan, the patient lies on a table while a machine captures images of the lung tissue, which we’ll examine for areas of concern. The procedure only takes a few minutes and is totally painless. 


Q: Where can I schedule an appointment for a lung cancer screening?

A: Patients can call the Great Lakes Cancer Care Collaborative Call Center at (716) 884-3000. My colleagues and I represent a lot of different cancer care specialties from screening to treatment, and we all work together to provide patients with the most collaborative and effective cancer care in Western New York. 


Woman with abdominal pain

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) account for roughly 8.1 million annual doctor visits, and about 60 percent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. To understand why UTIs occur, it is helpful to understand the urinary tract, which makes and stores urine in the kidneys, and travels down the ureters to the bladder where it is stored until emptied. Urine is emptied through the urethra, a tube that connects the bladder to the skin. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the vaginal opening in females. Normal urine doesn’t have bacteria in it, but bacteria can get into urine through the urethra.

UTI symptoms include a need to urinate more often, and burning or pain when urinating. It can also cause a strong urge to urinate even when you don't have much urine in your bladder. The urine may also smell bad and appear cloudy or even bloody. It is important to call your health provider if you experience any of these symptoms. Noticing any blood in the urine may indicate a sign of something more serious, making the need to call your health provider more urgent.

One of the primary causes of UTIs in women is that they have shorter urethra than men. However, some women are more prone to UTIs compared to others. Women who are going through menopause typically have a higher chance of getting a UTI due to a reduction in their estrogen levels. Some women are genetically predisposed to UTIs. Sexual intercourse can trigger and also increase the frequency of UTIs, as can the use of diaphragms and condoms with spermicidal foam.

Sometimes the cause of UTIs is an abnormality in the urinary tract. Such abnormalities include diverticula that harbor bacteria in the bladder or urethra or blockages, such as an enlarged bladder, that prevents the body from completely draining urine from the bladder. Individuals with diabetes are also at a higher risk, as their bodies don’t fight germs off as well.

To decrease the risk of UTI, it is helpful to drink plenty of fluids, refrain from putting off urinating, or not fully emptying the bladder due to being in a rush to urinate. Drinking cranberry juice or taking over-the-counter cranberry supplements can also help prevent UTIs.

Fortunately, most women have simple UTIs that can be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics, after which symptoms are alleviated. Postmenopausal women who experience UTIs can often be helped with topical hormone replacement with estrogen. When a UTI is complicated, a longer course of antibiotics is required, sometimes intravenously at a hospital. Women who get UTIs often should see their health provider for testing and treatment.

Armen Kirakosyan, MD, FACOG, FMPRS, FRCSC, FACS is a board-certified urogynecologist at General Physician, PC. He is experienced in treating a wide range of issues, from the most basic to complex surgeries. Learn more. To make an appointment with Dr. Kirakosyan, click here or call 716-656-4077.

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