No one likes going to the doctor, but some people avoid it more than others.
If your husband comes to mind, you’re not alone. Studies have found that men tend to see the doctor less often than women, citing reasons like being too busy, fear of negative results or worry over tests like a prostate exam.
But in honor of Movember – the annual month inviting men to grow their moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide – it might be time to call them out on it.
“I think a lot of times, men in particular don’t want to think about themselves having a health issue,” says Dr. Gregory Diorio, D.O., a urologist with the DMC Medical Group. “Especially as they get a little older or if they have friends that are starting to have health issues, they tend to have a ‘keep their head in the sand’ type of attitude and keep themselves busy with work or family activities.”
That can be dangerous, though.
“They’re at that age where they can blink their eyes and five years go by,” he says. “Oftentimes it will take a catastrophic event in their lives to bring them in.”
Consider these three reasons why men can’t keep avoiding medical attention.
1. He could miss important screenings
The biggest mistake men and women often make is assuming they don’t need to be seen if they’re feeling fine. But those annual physicals count.
“The main reason would be to identify any problems before they become a problem,” Dr. Diorio says. “It’s a chance to identify any health issues in terms of blood pressure, basic cancer screenings, lipid and cholesterol levels and to get a good baseline physical when men are younger; that way, they know if there are any issues that can be addressed as they start to get older.”
Skipping annual checkups could also mean missing an important discussion about prostate cancer screenings.
“When a man starts to get into his 40s and 50s, he really should have a conversation either with his primary care doctor or his urologist as to whether he should be screened for prostate cancer,” Dr. Diorio says. “It’s a simple test and can help focus screening and treatments in the coming years.”
2. Problems won’t go away (and might get worse)
It’s common knowledge that early detection is key in cancer treatment, and the same goes for treating problems like uncontrolled blood pressure that may cause no symptoms at all, Dr. Diorio says.
“Screening the general population is important to identify those patients who are going to be high risk so we can intervene at an early stage prior to the patient becoming symptomatic,” he says.
In other cases, men may have symptoms they assume aren’t serious.
“We see that almost every day in the office,” he says. “Patients will come in with some mild symptoms they don’t think are a problem.”
Blood in the urine, for example, requires prompt attention.
“That can very often be a sign of something serious such as a bladder or kidney tumor. These conditions can be curable at an early stage, but at advanced stages are often lethal,” Dr. Diorio says.
3. The doctor-patient relationship matters
Men who have avoided the doctor for years may not have an established relationship with a primary care provider.
“Especially as men get into their 40s and 50s, they need to have a good relationship either with their primary care doctors or with their specialists, in particular when it comes down to things like cancer screening,” Dr. Diorio says. “I think it’s crucial to develop that relationship early.”
Having a positive doctor-patient relationship makes men more likely to open up about their symptoms and concerns.
“The more comfortable the patient is, the more willing they are to talk about their problems,” he says.
To make an appointment with Dr. Diorio, visit DMCMedicalGroup.com where you can book appointments online in minutes.