The key health check-ups every man should be having

It’s easy to keep putting off a doctor’s appointment – and men can be the biggest culprits. These key medical checks can get their health back on track.

While there are signs of improvement, many men still avoid routine checks that can help prevent or assist early diagnosis of a range of diseases and health problems, from bowel and skin cancer to diabetes and depression.

According to government figures, men live 4.2 years less than women.

Men are also more likely than women to die from heart disease at earlier ages and are at higher risk of dying from liver disease and cancer.

Here are some areas to keep an eye on.


Coronary heart disease kills 118 Australians every day, and about 40 per cent more men than women are affected.

From the age of 45 — or 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — the Heart Foundation recommends a Medicare-funded Heart Health Check with a GP.

It takes 20 minutes and covers blood pressure, cholesterol, health history, diet, physical activity, how much you drink or smoke, and any family history of heart disease.

If you’re at risk of heart attack or stroke, your GP can suggest steps to reduce the risk.


Two in three Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 and Australia is the melanoma capital of the world, Cancer Council public health committee chair Anita Dessaix says.

“Men aged 40-plus sometimes think their skin is damaged so there’s no point looking after it, which isn’t true,” Anita says.

“Skin damage builds over time and men can be at even higher risk if they work outdoors or play golf or other outdoor sports, which require long periods outdoors.”

A skin check can spot early signs of cancer.

“If you notice changes — like a spot that changes shape or colour, or a sore that doesn’t heal — see your GP,” Anita says.


About one in 11 men develop bowel cancer in their lifetime and about 8400 men are diagnosed each year.

About 9 per cent of them are under the age of 50, according to Bowel Cancer Australia.

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is an important step in prevention.

“Bowel cancer is one of the top five most common cancers for men, so the national bowel cancer screening program is important,” Anita says.

The home test is posted to Australians aged 50-75 years every two years.

“It’s a non-invasive test done at home that looks for traces of blood in a stool,” Anita says.

“A positive result doesn’t mean you automatically have bowel cancer, but it does require further checks.

“So when your test arrives in the post, don’t throw it in the bin or put it aside — do it.”


Every five minutes, someone in Australia is diagnosed with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common, and rates are slightly higher in men.

Diabetes is a major cause of preventable blindness and increases the risk of amputation and heart disease.

The Diabetes Australia risk calculator can help assess if you have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

If so, speak to your GP about a fasting blood glucose test.

Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, choosing healthy foods, taking care of your blood pressure and cholesterol and not smoking can delay and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Mental health

There’s no routine screening recommended for mental health, but Beyond Blue’s anxiety and depression checklist asks 10 questions that can indicate if you may need support and should check in with your GP.

“Mental health issues can crop up during big life transitions — a relationship break-up, moving house or country, starting work or moving into retirement,” Beyond Blue lead clinical advisor Dr Grant Blashki says.

“We also see high rates of depression in men after the birth of a first baby, too.

“If you experience negative thinking that interferes with your day-to-day life, if you’re catastrophising and worried about everything and it lasts for a couple of weeks, that’s a red flag.

“Speak to your GP, who can help create a mental health plan, link you with Medicare-subsidised psychology appointments, and give you advice on the importance of sleeping and eating well, exercising and setting up a daily routine.”


By the age of 85, one in six men will be told they have prostate cancer and more than 63 per cent of cases are diagnosed in men aged over 65.

The risk increases after the age of 50 and also increases if you have a family history of prostate, breast or ovarian cancer.

Symptoms can include urinating frequently, difficulty passing urine, a slow, interrupted flow of urine or incontinence.

Signs of advanced prostate cancer include pain when urinating, blood in your urine or semen, or pain in the back or pelvis.

If you experience symptoms, see your GP for a PSA blood test.

Your GP may then recommend an MRI.


Around 150 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year.

The majority of men are diagnosed after age 50.

“About 80 per cent of men don’t realise that men can get breast cancer — there’s a lack of awareness,” BCNA spokesman Professor John Boyages says.

“About 80 per cent of patients have a lump on one side and about 15 per cent have nipple changes or discharge.

“If you find a firm lump see your doctor who will recommend an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy.

“That lump could be benign, a fatty lump or a cyst, but get it checked.”

For more men’s health advice, pick up your free copy of Wellness+ at your local Chemist Warehouse store.

Written by Sarah Marinos.