National Men’s Health Week Provides Important Reminder of the Value of Diagnostic Testing In Disease Prevention

(Washington, D.C.) –  The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) today commemorates National Men’s Health Week (June 15-21, 2015) by encouraging men to stay informed about potential health risks, adopt healthy lifestyle patterns, stay tuned to disease symptoms and consult their physicians about diagnostic testing that could prevent disease onset and progression.

“We know that some diseases discriminate and often greatly affect one gender and even certain ethnicities over another,” said Alan Mertz. “That’s why National Men’s Health Week serves as a good reminder for all American males to undergo their own health check, talk to their doctors and if appropriate, explore the value of diagnostic testing in disease prevention.”

The following tests are a few of the diagnostic screening tools impacting health choices for men:

According to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds and stroke kills someone in the U.S. about once every four minutes. Recognizing signs of stroke (such as drooping on one side of a smile, an inability to raise arms to the same level, and inability to say simple sentences) so as to get the patient to an emergency facility as quickly as possible is critical for the best outcome for a patient experiencing a stroke. Once the patient is in the appropriate care setting, there are blood tests to help your doctor make treatment decisions and that check for symptoms similar to a stroke.

A complete blood count (CBC) will check blood sugar, electrolytes, liver and kidney function and Prothrombin time – a test that measures how long it takes your blood to clot.

With stroke being the fifth highest cause of death in the U.S., a simple blood test at the recommendation of your doctor could go a long way in eliminating yourself from that statistic.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer and men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. Yet the death rate from the disease has been dropping in both men and women for more than twenty years. One of the reasons for this good news can be attributed to screening that can detect polyps before they turn cancerous.

Screening is recommended for those fifty years of age and older, but it is important for younger patients to consult their physicians if they have a family history. A colonoscopy is the most common screening test available.

For patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer, molecular diagnostic testing may provide additional information that could direct oncologists to treatments proven effective to those with the presence of certain genes.

To determine which drugs will be most effective in a particular patient, a genetic test can be used to help guide the physician’s treatment decisions.  For example, about 40 percent of patients with metastatic colon cancer have a mutated form of the KRAS gene in their tumors, and thus are unlikely to respond to certain therapies effective for those who don’t have the mutated form. According to clinical practice guidelines, only patients with the normal (wild-type) form of the KRAS gene should be treated with these drugs in conjunction with chemotherapy.  The ability to accurately identify patients that will not benefit from these therapies avoids a trial and error approach in many patients, which delays approaches that could benefit them earlier in the course of treatment.

“Increasingly sophisticated and innovative diagnostics are helping to push the boundaries of the personalized medicine frontier, which is directing the selection of therapies and reducing trial and error prescribing – the result of which delivers the right therapy the first time to the patient,” said Mertz. “Still, as the joke goes, men aren’t always good about asking for directions.  But when it comes to your health, keeping track of your personal roadmap will keep you on the best course,” said Mertz.

For additional information on National Men’s Health Week, please visit Join the conversation on Twitter using the Hashtag #MensHealthWeek

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The ACLA is a not-for-profit association representing the nation’s leading national, regional and esoteric clinical laboratories on key issues of common concern, including federal and state government reimbursement and regulatory policies. 

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