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What is a medical check-up? A balanced diet, sufficient exercise, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine contribute to a healthy lifestyle but do not complete your health care – because this also includes going to the doctor regularly and taking advantage of medical check-ups to early detection of diseases before they become noticeable. Because a number of diseases spread insidiously in the body and are only noticed by those affected when it is already too late. These include certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes. If such diseases are diagnosed early, countermeasures can be taken immediately and they have a significantly better prognosis. So: Early detection can save lives!
What check-ups are there for men?
Many men attend check-ups only sporadically or not at all. The early detection of diseases is decisive for successful treatment. The focus is not only on cancer (skin cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer), but also cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, which can be detected in the so-called health check-up.
Cancer prevention men
Screening for skin cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer is recommended for men. Although early detection of cancer is crucial for the chances of a cure, only one in ten men take advantage of the offer of cancer screening – and this despite the fact that cancer is the second leading cause of death².
A recommended screening test for men is skin cancer screening. The screening serves for the early detection of malignant melanoma (black skin cancer), basal cell carcinoma (white skin cancer) and squamous cell carcinoma (white skin cancer).
Preventive examinations by a urologist for prostate cancer can be life-saving. Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor of the prostate gland in men and is the third leading cause of cancer death in men³. In an early stage, however, prostate carcinoma is easily curable. That is why men over a certain age are offered regular genital examinations for prostate cancer. The external and internal sex organs are palpated and examined. If there are any abnormalities, a PSA test is also carried out.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men. Accordingly, men – like women – are entitled to screening for colon cancer from a certain age. Colorectal cancer can be detected early because it almost always develops from growths on the intestinal wall that protrude into the intestine (so-called intestinal polyps ). These colon polyps can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy before they can develop into colon cancer. Since the introduction of colonoscopy for early detection, fewer people have contracted and died from colon cancer. In addition to the colonoscopy, the stool test also offers an important check-up for men.⁴
Health check men
Diseases such as type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases or cardiovascular diseases can be effectively combated if diagnosed at an early stage. In the so-called health check-up, you will be asked and examined for health risks, previous stresses and illnesses. The aim is to identify and treat diseases as early as possible. A men’s health check is usually followed by detailed advice and – if medically necessary – recommendations on how certain diseases can be prevented (e.g. through courses on exercise, nutrition, coping with stress, etc .).
Every man should have his teeth and gums checked regularly. This recommendation is aimed at small children with milk teeth and continues into adulthood. During the dental check-up, the teeth are not only examined for damage but tartar is also removed. It’s not just the teeth that benefit, but the whole body : Because inflammation in the mouth area can damage other organs, such as the heart.
Preventive medical check-up – which doctor?
There is not just one doctor for check-ups – the responsible department varies depending on the type of examination and disease. While you can choose between a family doctor and an internist for the health check, you will usually be referred to a specialist for the other check-ups:✔ The dermatologist or a doctor who has taken part in certified further training for skin cancer screening ✔ The urologist during the preventive examination for prostate cancer✔ The family doctor or urologist during the stool test for colon cancer✔ The internist (usually from gastroenterology) during the colonoscopy✔ The dentist during the dental check-up By the way: You do not have to apply to the health insurance company for the preventive check-ups that are required from a certain age, but you can simply request the examinations from your doctor.
What is done during the preventive medical check-up for men?
Many men are afraid of medical check-ups and fear uncomfortable examinations and questions. The examinations are very routine and run very differently depending on the department. However, they have one thing in common: the focus is on a trusting exchange between doctor and patient, in which the previous history (e.g. previous illnesses), risk factors (e.g. family history), and recommendations for everyday life can be discussed. The aim is to improve or maintain your state of health. Conspicuous findings are usually followed by detailed advice and, if necessary, a referral to a specialist.
Skin Cancer Screening in Men
The skin cancer screening can be carried out in connection with the health check-up if necessary and includes:
- Targeted anamnesis with questions about family history and previous illnesses as well as changes and symptoms
- Inspection of the skin of the entire body (including the hairy head and all skin folds) for discoloration, hardening and abnormal moles, performed with the naked eye or with a lamp and a microscope
If the findings are suspicious, tissue samples are sent to the laboratory and, depending on the result, a specialist in dermatology is consulted.
Urological screening in men
With the help of a preventive examination by a urologist, prostate cancer and cancer of the external genitalia can be detected at an early stage and treated accordingly. The “ finger in the buttocks ” that many men fear during a prostate examination does not cause any pain – fear and shame from the examination are therefore completely unfounded. The screening examination at the urologist includes⁵:
- Targeted anamnesis with questions about family history and previous illnesses as well as changes and symptoms
- Inspection and palpation of the external genitalia
- a palpation examination of the prostate from the rectum (digital rectal examination)
- Palpation of the lymph nodes in this body region
If the palpation test is abnormal and prostate cancer is suspected, the concentration of the prostate-specific antigen in the blood serum is usually determined for further clarification ( PSA test ). In addition, a tissue sample can be taken and examined. If the suspicion of cancer is confirmed, the urologist determines the stage of the disease using various imaging and endoscopic procedures.
Colorectal cancer screening in men
Most statutory health insurance companies send insured persons a personal invitation to early detection of colon cancer every 5 years from a certain age. Various types of screening for colorectal cancer are offered: You can have your stool blood tested (iFOBT) either annually or every two years, or you can have an early detection colonoscopy twice at intervals of at least 10 years. These check-ups follow a one-time, targeted consultation about early detection of colon cancer by a doctor.
Stool test in men
In the stool test as part of the early detection of colon cancer, a stool sample is examined for invisible traces of blood , which can indicate colon polyps or colon cancer. The process usually looks like this⁶:
- Preliminary talk with a doctor
- Take the test pack for stool collection at home (special paper for the toilet, small stick for stool collection, airtight tube)
- Delivery of the stool sample to the doctor’s office
- Evaluation of the stool sample in the laboratory
If a stool sample is abnormal, a colonoscopy is recommended. So, even if you decide to have the stool test, you should be prepared to have a colonoscopy performed if the result is abnormal. However, blood in the stool does not necessarily mean colon cancer: the traces of blood can also have other causes, such as inflammation of the gastric mucosa (gastritis).
Colonoscopy in men
During a colonoscopy, the entire large intestine, approximately 1.5 m long, is examined with a colonoscope. A colonoscope is a long, flexible tube with a light source and a video camera at the tip. Before the colonoscopy, the patient’s bowel should be completely empty. In order to achieve this, you have to go without solid food for a few hours, depending on the appointment, and drink a laxative the evening before or in the morning of the examination. After a preliminary consultation with the doctor, the colonoscopy then proceeds as follows⁷:
- if necessary, administration of a sedative or anesthetic
- Insertion of the colonoscope through the anus to the junction between the large and small intestine
- Dilatation of the bowel with air
- Observation of the intestinal wall when the colonoscope is pulled out
If polyps or suspicious mucosal areas are discovered during the colonoscopy, they can be removed directly and sent to a laboratory. There the tissue is examined for cancer cells. In the case of conspicuous or larger polyps, a repeat colonoscopy is recommended in the next few years.
The procedure of the health check-up
During the health check, also called “Check-up 35 ”, one is examined for various diseases. The following research methods are used:
- Detailed anamnesis interview on the medical history, family diseases, and health behavior (nutrition, exercise, addictive substances such as alcohol and nicotine)
- Physical examination of the organs, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and the sensory organs
- Checking the vaccination status
- Blood pressure measurement, since high blood pressure, is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attack).
- Examination of certain blood values (e.g. total cholesterol) and fasting blood sugar
- Urine sample (determination of protein, glucose, red and white blood cells, nitrite)
If the results are striking, such as high blood pressure, a detailed discussion about your own lifestyle follows. The doctor can make recommendations for a healthier lifestyle.
Medical check-ups for men – when and how often?
Now that you know the importance of screening, you probably want to make an appointment for screening right away… Not so fast! The costs of the recommended early detection examinations are borne by the statutory health insurance companies (GKV), but only from a certain age. How come? The risk for most illnesses increases with age – accordingly, preventive medical check-ups only make sense from a certain age.
Medical check-up: men over 18
Since malignant testicular tumors mainly occur in young men between the ages of 20 and 35, men over the age of 18 should independently examine the testicles for changes such as lumps, enlargements, or reductions once a month Have a dental check-up every year. Tartar can be removed once a year. Men between the ages of 18 and 35 can have a health check carried out
Medical check-up: men over 30
From the age of 35, every insured person is entitled to a skin cancer screening every two years. In addition, the health check can be carried out every 2 years for men over 35.
Medical check-up: men over 40
Every man over the age of 45 should have his prostate and external genital organs examined by a urologist every year.
Medical check-up: men over 50
Men over the age of 50 should have a screening for colorectal cancer. Depending on your age, you can choose between different types of examinations:
- from 50 years: early detection colonoscopy, which can be repeated once after 10 years at the earliest
- 50 to 54 years: annual test for occult blood in the stool
- from the age of 55: As long as no early detection colonoscopy has been performed, you are entitled to a stool blood test every two years (as an alternative to the colonoscopy)
If the early detection examinations reveal abnormal findings (e.g. large polyps) or if you suffer from chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease), a colonoscopy should be carried out earlier.
Medical check-up: men over 60
Men over 65 should have a
one-time ultrasound scan for early detection of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
What do preventive medical check-ups cost?
Every person with statutory health insurance in the UK is entitled to certain check-ups, because: All early detection check-ups recommended by the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) in its guidelines are non-co-paying benefits for the insured person from the statutory health insurance companies (GKV). These free services include:
Differences in medical check-ups: Private vs. statutory health insurance
In principle, men who are privately insured can take advantage of the same check-ups that people with statutory health insurance are entitled to. The basis here is the guidelines set up by the G-BA. Depending on the tariff, most private health insurance companies go beyond the specifications when it comes to reimbursement for preventive medical check-ups. Which additional check-ups for men are covered by private health insurance is very variable. If you have private health insurance, it is best to look at the benefits of your tariff or ask your health insurance company directly. ❗ Not all preventive examinations make the same sense. On the one hand, examinations that increasingly deliver “false-positive” results (i.e. incorrectly indicate diseases that do not exist at all) can cause great uncertainty among those affected. On the other hand, screening tests, which often show “false negative” results (i.e. no disease even though it is present), can give sufferers a false sense of security and reduce the chance of timely treatment.
Which health insurance company pays for which check-up?
All early detection examinations recommended in the guidelines of the G-BA are services provided by statutory health insurance companies and are therefore free of co-payments. In addition, some statutory health insurance funds reimburse or subsidize further examinations. This includes preventive medical check-ups for insured persons who are below the age limit recommended by the G-BA. Here are some examples:
The explanations and lists of possible treatment options are purely informative and do not replace consultation with your doctor or the explanations about the intake, mode of action, and side effects from the product-specific leaflet.