"I've noticed in the Black community that we don't always discuss health. Some things are kept close to the vest, so to speak," said Kwame Francis, MD, primary care doctor at Ascension St. John Hospital.
Dr. Francis has found that many Black men have limited interactions with doctors and the healthcare system except for emergency care. Preventive and primary care has not always been a priority for them.
"A lot of time, men's appointments are made by a female in their life, whether an intimate partner or a daughter. They're not usually making appointments themselves," he said.
Dr. Francis has often cared for multiple generations of a family at one time and sees the benefits of families coming together to prioritize their health. Here’s how he says men's health screenings can help manage your family’s health and catch health concerns early:
Understand what a health screening is
The term “screening” is very often misunderstood. Screening is when a doctor looks for signs of an illness or a health condition before symptoms occur. With regular men's health screenings, you and your doctor can find health concerns early, when they are most treatable.
You may come to your appointment with no symptoms of chest pain or shortness of breath, but there might be something that is a cause for concern. A screening test can determine what you may have and help a doctor offer options for treatment.
Recommended screening tests for men
There is only one screening that is specific to men, and that is a prostate screening. At Ascension Michigan, it is recommended that men in their 40s speak to their doctor about PSA-based prostate cancer screening – a blood test that can spot early signs of a possible cancer.
Men should also talk to their doctor about colon cancer, lung cancer, cholesterol and diabetes screenings. I recommend patients ask the men in their family — father, grandfather, uncles, and brothers — if they have any issues with their prostate. Symptoms to consider include difficulty with urination, a weak urine stream, and having to wake up multiple times at night to use the bathroom.
Find a doctor that will listen to you
A conversation with a doctor about your health is the first step in the health screening process. Some screenings are just a simple conversation. A doctor can screen and find treatment based on the information you share.
Finding a doctor who can relate to you personally and culturally can make a difference. Most of the time, your screening will focus on health goals, personal medical history and family history.
Collaborate with your doctor on a health plan
A physical exam will occur after learning about health concerns and medical history. You and your doctor will decide together what is next to manage your health concerns or goals. Your doctor will recommend testing and educate you about the benefits and risks of every test. You'll learn how each test will help doctors determine what is next in your care plan. Then together, you and your doctor would make a follow-up plan, whether in a month, two months or anytime after that.
Personalized care for men's health concerns
Whether you need preventive care, are concerned about new symptoms, want to check on an ongoing condition, or just aren't feeling well, it's important not to delay care.
At Ascension Michigan, we listen to understand you and your current health concerns. Then work with you to make sure you get the care that’s right for you. Visit ascension.org/SoutheastMIScreenings or call 586-296-6213 to schedule an appointment.