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Screening Tests for Men Archive

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Screening tests may save lives — so when is it time to stop?

Published January 23, 2023

A screening test could save your life, but even the best test has limitations. And as people grow older, the benefits of these tests tend to decline. It’s helpful to understand the limits of screening, and when people can reasonably expect to stop having tests done.

The latest in cancer treatments

Published November 1, 2022

Groundbreaking cancer treatments continuously emerge from labs and research trials. Three Harvard oncologists share what stands out in their respective fields of prostate, lung, and colon cancer, the most common cancers among men. Examples include greater roles for immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and intensive hormonal treatments.

Colon cancer screening decisions: What’s the best option and when?

Published June 15, 2022

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and rates are rising, particularly in younger people. It can be prevented with screening tests; there are several different types of tests that are performed in different ways, and guidelines for when testing should begin and how often people should be tested.

Home screening options for colorectal cancer

Published May 1, 2022

There are several at-home screening tests for colorectal cancer. The most accurate are a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a multitarget stool DNA (mt-sDNA) test (Cologuard), also known as a FIT-DNA test. The FIT test uses antibodies to detect blood in stool, and must be done once a year. The FIT-DNA test can identify DNA from cancer cells in the stool and also has a FIT component to look for blood. This test may be repeated once every three years.

New recommendation: Earlier colorectal cancer screening

Published August 1, 2021
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that people begin colon cancer screening at age 45 (instead of 50) and continue through age 75. Some evidence suggests that healthy people older than 75 may also benefit from screening.

MRI looking better for detecting prostate cancer

Updated June 1, 2021
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to screen for prostate cancer can identify higher-grade cancers just as well as a standard biopsy, and may help some men with high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) numbers avoid biopsies.

What to do about incidental findings

Updated January 1, 2020

They often lead to follow-up appointments and more testing.

Modern medical imaging saves lives: it can find a blocked artery, a bulging blood vessel, or a suspicious mass. But many times, an x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, or ultrasound exam looking for one kind of problem can reveal an anomaly that's unrelated and unexpected. Such incidental findings can lead to more testing, more medical bills, and a great deal of anxiety.

"Frequently radiologists will point out something and say it's probably benign, but recommend an MRI. Once you've been told something might be abnormal, you might feel nervous until you know what it is," says Dr. Suzanne Salamon, associate chief of gerontology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Why you need an annual wellness visit

Updated January 1, 2020

The once-a-year appointment can reveal vital health information for both you and your doctor.

It's usually covered by your health insurance, it doesn't take much time, and it's a great way to learn about your present and future health.

While men often call it the yearly physical, the annual ritual is better named a wellness visit or preventive health appointment. Whatever you call it, men should still have one every year as it remains an important part of primary care, according to Dr. Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs and primary care physician at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Should you get a home genetic test?

Updated February 1, 2019

Direct-to-consumer tests may help predict risks to your future health. But are they worth the cost and trouble?


 Image: © jxfzsy/Getty Images

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic test kits are a popular way to identify a person's ancestral history, but the technology may also reveal whether someone is at risk for specific diseases and conditions, like Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and even cancer.

"More and more people want to explore their own medical data, and a DTC genetic test is one way to begin to understand some aspects of your future health," says Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and director of the Genomes2People Research Program. "Yet it is important to realize that DTC testing is not the same as genetic testing in a medical context, and is not a comprehensive examination of your DNA."

Prostate screening guideline highlights patient choice

Updated September 1, 2018

In the journals


 Image: © jarun011/Getty Images

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its guideline for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer.

The group now recommends that for men ages 55 to 69, screening should be an individual choice, and a man should discuss the pros and cons with his doctor before making a decision. The report, published online May 8, 2018, by The Journal of the American Medical Association, differs from the 2012 guidelines that recommended against screening for all men.

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