We need to at least be able to have that conversation – to overcome the perception that going to the doctor is a waste of time and a sign of weakness. I don’t have any new or great ideas on how to get over this first hurdle, but I do know that if we can clear the hurdle there is a lot of benefit down the path. So, let’s just assume that you have made the decision to seek advice and actually ask questions about your health. What are some of the topics to cover with your clinician?
There are some topics important to men’s health that are age-specific while there are others that span all age groups. Some of the topics that are more universal include nutrition, activity, weight, stress management, drug, tobacco, and alcohol use, safety issues, and Advance Directive planning. Other topics such as certain cancer screening recommendations are more age or race or even family history based. Your primary care clinician is trained to give you accurate information on each of these topics and to engage you in a conversation about addressing these and other issues of importance to you.
For each topic there are general guidelines and recommendations, but no one guideline or recommendation fits every person. A great example is the current discussion about prostate cancer screening. There was a recent recommendation from the US Preventive Services group to stop all routine prostate cancer screening. Yet, there may be times when screening and testing is appropriate for a particular patient.
There are other guidelines that may be difficult to understand and require more detailed discussion and thought, such as completing an Advance Directive document so that in case of a need for family or loved ones to participate in care decisions there is clear direction from you.
Finally, there may be areas of health that you are not ready to address but that at least need to be highlighted such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, a poor diet, or even making that appointment for your colonoscopy.
The most important element to understand with any encounter with your primary care clinician is that the visit is an opportunity to participate in decisions about your health. You need to take an active role in discussing what is important to you to achieve better health and to avoid illness.
Some important questions to answer as you discuss health issues with your primary care clinician are:
- Do I think this is an issue that might impact my health?
- Am I interested in making changes to improve my health in this area?
- If I am interested, what changes am I willing to make?
- What help do I think I need to be successful in making changes?
I have chosen to not go into great detail about specific topics of men’s health here. Rather, I have deliberately chosen to challenge the men who read this to take that first step – recognize the need and benefit of visiting your primary care clinician to have a conversation about health issues. Is your health important to you? What steps do you see you need to take and are ready to take to improve and preserve your health? If you can answer ‘Yes’ to the first question and are ready to make some changes, then pick up the phone and schedule an appointment to have that conversation with your clinician to start the process of change and better health. I already know that those who care about you and love you want to see you optimize your health.
Now it is up to you.
Dr. Cincotta, Medical Director of the PinnacleHealth Medical Group
Dr. Cincotta is the current Medical Director of the PinnacleHealth Medical Group. Dr. Cincotta graduated from Hamilton College in 1971 and from Upstate Medical Center in 1975. He completed Family Medicine Residency at Harrisburg Hospital in 1978. Dr. Cincotta served as Medical Director of Heritage Medical Group 1998 – 2012 and has been a practicing family physician at Shepherdstown Family Practice since 1979.
- Listen to this Radio Smart Talk episode on men's health and cancer issues
- Read this Expert Blog on how to avoid the 5 deadliest cancers for men
- Learn more about prostate cancer
- Colon cancer screening is a powerful weapon in preventing cancer