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A guy’s guide to cancer screenings

You’re healthy, with no aches, pains or worrisome symptoms, so you don’t need to see your doctor, right? Wrong. You may not be sick now, but you need to visit your healthcare provider regularly to stay that way. In addition to checking your blood pressure, weight and other key factors, he or she may perform—or recommend—cancer screenings, many of which can spot the disease when it’s still beatable. Check out the list below to see which screenings are recommended for men who are generally healthy. Ask your healthcare provider which tests you should get—and when—based on your own health and family history and your lifestyle. (Are you overweight? Do you smoke? Are you active? Do you eat a healthy diet?)

Colon cancer

If you’re over age 50, your healthcare provider may recommend one of several tests every few years, from a colonoscopy, which looks at your colon and rectum, to a double contrast barium enema, a type of X-ray in which your provider uses chalky liquid and air to see the inner parts of your colon and rectum.

Oral cancer

Don’t skip those twice-a-year chopper-checkups with your dentist. He or she will examine your mouth and tongue for signs of oral cancer, which include sores, red or white patches, bleeding or loose teeth.

Prostate cancer

Screening tests include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and they’re usually performed together. During a DRE, your healthcare provider inserts a gloved finger into your rectum to feel for any abnormalities in the prostate gland, which lies just in front of the rectum. The PSA test checks for high levels of a protein produced by the prostate gland. Some experts recommend that most men be offered the tests starting at age 50, while others don’t feel it offers enough benefit to recommend to anyone except those at highest risk. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine whether you need either test.

Skin cancer

Starting at age 20, have your dermatologist or other provider check your skin every three years. You should also be checking your skin and existing moles for any changes.

Testicular cancer

Your healthcare provider may do an exam as part of a regular checkup, but you should also perform monthly self-exams starting at age 15 (testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in the teen years and the most common cancer for men ages 20 to 34). Your provider can explain in detail how to do them, but self-exams involve feeling each testicle for lumps, hardening or enlargement.