Check-up: Has Your Man Had One?
Focused on Health - September 2010
by Carlandréa Clark
Does the word “doctor” send your man running to the nearest exit? If so, he’s not alone.
A recent study shows that men are much less likely than women to have visited the doctor in the past year.
“Many men don’t get check-ups because they are conditioned to be tough,” says Elise Cook, M.D., associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention.
The price men pay can be high, though. When men don’t get routine exams, they miss out on potentially lifesaving screening tests.
Get him to the doctor
“It’s often up to women to make sure the men in their lives get the preventive care and screening tests they need to stay healthy,” Cook says.
Have a man in your life who avoids the doctor? Here’s how you can help him get the care he needs.
1. Give encouragement
Family support is key. So, give your man a gentle nudge.
Use creative ways to stress his importance to the family. For example, make a postcard and ask family members to write brief notes about why they care about his health. Include a reminder if he has an upcoming appointment.
2. Be a role model
Show him that going to the doctor isn’t a big deal by scheduling routine exams for yourself. You could even invite him to go with you to the doctor.
“Seeing you meet with a doctor may make him more comfortable with doing the same,” Cook says.
3. Find a doctor
Find a doctor he’ll be comfortable with and schedule an appointment. Tap into your network of family and friends; they are often good sources of referrals. Or contact a trusted local hospital.
If your man hasn’t seen a doctor in years, he can even start by visiting a family doctor. He or she will help identify appropriate tests based on his age, family history, lifestyle habits and other factors. These tests may include screening exams for cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes as well as colorectal, prostate and skin cancers.
4. Support him
Many men fear screening exams because they don’t know what is entailed. So, make his health a team effort.
Before his first doctor’s appointment, read about different cancer screening exams the doctor is likely to recommend and share with him what you learn. Or suggest he complete Cancer Risk Check, MD Anderson’s online questionnaire that provides users with a list of suggested screening exams.
Go with him to his first visit. Use this meeting to ask questions and discuss issues of concern.
After his appointment, celebrate! Then, add one last thing to your man’s “to-do” list: urge him to tell other men to see their doctor regularly and get the screening exams they need!