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Men's Health Month: Taking a look at key health screenings men should have

Posted at 8:48 AM, Jun 11, 2024

BALTIMORE — June is Men’s Health Month.

When James Williams Jr. was 39 years old, he was healthy. He ran marathons, but his late wife insisted he get a prostate screening for his annual physical.

“And I'm like, that’s an old man's disease. Why would I get screened for prostate cancer? I feel good. I’m in shape," said Williams.

He got a prostate-specific antigen test. His numbers were elevated, but one doctor said not to worry about it. He got a second opinion.

“I was able to track Dr. Arthur Burnett Jr. at Johns Hopkins who said let’s give this six months and lets see what happens. My numbers doubled. I had a biopsy and I came up with a positive test for prostate cancer," said Williams.

Williams, who is 64, is a two-time prostate cancer survivor. He believes catching the disease early and getting the right treatment saved his life, and he works to inform men who are 45 and older to get screened.

“I was going to movie theaters where I saw a long line or football games or basketball games or my own family gatherings. And I started with my own family to make sure
all the men in my family, my uncles, men who are about my age, are getting screened for prostate cancer," said Williams.

Getting a prostate screening is just one of the screenings men should get.

“Prostate screening is one thing that is very important when you get older, especially if you’re over 40. Colonoscopy, just like it is for women, it’s important for men. And we like to screen to for diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Stuart Bell, a primary care doctor and medical director at Med Star Union Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Bell says when it comes to prostate and colon screenings, men should do that by the age of 45, but earlier if they have a family history.

“I guess the point of this is it’s very personalized. You have to make sure you understand the risk profile they have. And you have to make the shared decision.”

Dr. Bell says there are other things men need to be aware of including testicular cancer. Younger men have a higher risk of that cancer, and if you are a smoker, Dr. Bell says
you should be screened for lung cancer.