Routine Health Checkups – Including Recommended Laboratory Tests – Improve and Save Men’s Lives

June 01, 2023 Categories: ACLA Blog, ACLA News

June is Men’s Health Month, an opportunity to focus on the many ways that recommended clinical laboratory testing is essential in assessing, addressing and managing men’s health. In what has been called a “silent health crisis,’’[1] research shows that, compared to women, men are less likely to see the doctor, and are at greater risk of death[2] from a variety of health issues. According to a recent survey,[3] more than half of men say they do not get regular health checkups, which means they are missing out on recommended routine clinical laboratory tests that are key to maintaining optimal health and diagnosing many conditions.

These missed regular checkups contribute to higher death rates and a significant lifetime longevity gap between men and women. In 2021, men’s life expectancy[4] was nearly 6 years shorter than women’s, with an average of 73.2 years for men and 79.1 years for women. This difference in expected lifespan is the largest seen in the United States since 1996.

A lack of regular checkups means reduced opportunities for men and their providers to help prevent, identify and treat adverse health outcomes that can lead to reduced quality of life and earlier morbidity and mortality from conditions like diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer.

Men should also be screened at regular wellness visits through laboratory tests for levels of cholesterol and blood glucose. Diabetes and high levels of cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, the leading killer of men in the United States,[5] accounting for about a quarter of male deaths. An A1C test[6] can help diagnose prediabetes and diabetes, and a lipid panel can identify abnormalities with cholesterol and triglycerides that determine approximate risk of cardiovascular disease.

Clinical laboratory testing is also a critical tool in cancer detection, including for those that are specific to or more commonly diagnosed in men. Prostate cancer, the second-most common cancer in men, can be flagged by the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which may prompt further testing to confirm a diagnosis and lead to better outcomes in the 1 in 8 men[7] likely to have prostate cancer in their lifetime. Another kind of blood test measures levels of serum tumor markers for testicular cancer, helping clinicians more accurately define the cancer stage and plan treatment accordingly.

Colorectal cancer has higher incidence and mortality rates in men. However, partly because colorectal cancer screening guideines have led to earlier detection and treatment, the death rate from this form of cancer has been dropping for decades.[8] Advancements in clinical laboratory screenings for colorectal cancer, including the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and stool DNA test, help identify the disease earlier,[9] prompting earlier intervention and treatment. Additionally, while most often associated with breast cancer in women, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk[10] of breast cancer, high-grade prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer in men. Clinical laboratory tests help identify genetic mutations that increase these risks.

Clinical laboratories are vital in assessing and managing men’s health, providing insights and guidance that improve health and save the lives of fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, and friends. This Men’s Health Month, ACLA urges men to proactively engage in their health care management, talk to their providers and follow through on recommended clinical laboratory testing.

[1] Men’s Health Network,

[2] Washington Post,

[3] Cleveland Clinic,

[4] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention,

[5] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention,,in%20every%204%20male%20deaths

[6] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention,,care%20team%20manage%20your%20diabetes.

[7] American Cancer Society,

[8] American Cancer Society,

[9] WebMD,

[10] Centers for Disease Control & Prevention,

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