Medical tests that can save your life

Medical tests that can save your life | 4/16/2018, 2:56 p.m.
Health indicators consistently confirm that African Americans suffer disproportionately from leading diseases, as well as die earlier. In light of ...
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Prostate exam for men

Annually at age 40 and above, annually after age 35 if there is a family history of the disease. We rely on both a physical exam and the prostate-specific antigen test, which can detect prostate cancer early. The PSA test can provide helpful information, but it is not a substitute for a physical exam. A PSA level of 4.0 ng/ml or less is usually considered normal. However, if the amount of PSA in your blood is higher than normal, it does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. Several less serious conditions can also cause PSA levels to rise above 4.0. Up to 20 percent of men with prostate cancer will have a normal PSA level.

Rectal exam/digital

The digital rectal exam is an important screening test for the detection of tumors of the rectum and prostate abnormalities, including benign enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) and cancer of the prostate Consider having one annually after age 35.


This test is commonly used to screen for colorectal cancer and polyps. You should have one every three to five years after age 40.

Skin exam

Both African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more symptoms at diagnosis, including kidney problems. Once a month, using a mirror or asking a friend for help, check every square inch of your skin for abnormalities, including moles, rashes or scaling. Annually, have a primary care physician or dermatologist perform a skin check, starting at age 40, or earlier if you have a lot of sun-related skin damage.

Of course, there are many other periodic exams and screenings; these just happen to be some of the ones considered most important for African Americans.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!


This column is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition or concern, please seek professional care from your doctor or other health professional. Glenn Ellis is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist and is available through http://www.glennellis.com.