High blood pressure is a risk factor for a number of diseases, including heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and preeclampsia inpregnancy. It is important to have this checked, ideally at each appointment with your doctor, as it may be elevated without you experiencing any symptoms.
For more information, see Blood Pressure.
Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol is a risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease and stroke, and likewise can be elevated in the absence of any symptoms. This is not purely a disorder of overweight people like some may think, but also occurs in apparently healthy individuals.
For more information, see Cholesterol.
For those aged 50–75, the Cancer Council of Australia recommends screening by way of a faecal occult blood test every two years for people without symptoms or a strong history of bowel cancer. This is a simple test that detects the presence of blood in the faeces, which may be invisible to the naked eye. If performed every two years, this screening test can reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by up to one third.
If you are experiencing symptoms, have a strong family history of colorectal cancer, or have a positive FOBT result, a colonoscopy may be performed regardless of your age.
For more information, see Screening for Bowel Cancer.
The Cancer Council Australia does not recommend universal screening for prostate cancer. However, those who are:
- At higher risk:
should be screened for prostate cancer by way of a:
- Digital rectal examination: To check the size, consistency and any irregularities or the prostate; and
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test: Simple blood test which measures the amount of prostate specific antigen, a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland and present in the blood.
For more information, see PSA Testing.
Although many may be put off by having their testicles examined, this is a quick and simple examination that may be lifesaving. Unlike many other cancers, testicular cancer is most common in younger age groups, with a peak incidence between the ages of 20 and 40 years.
Some individuals are at higher risk of developing testicular cancer, including those with:
- History of cryptorchidism (undescended testes);
- Family history of testicular cancer;
- Testicular trauma;
- Mumps; and
- Certain occupational exposures, including wood dust and chromate dyes.
Examination is especially important if you have noticed any abnormalities of the testes, including hard lumps, swelling, change in consistency or a dull ache in the testicle or lower abdomen.
For more information, see Early Detection of Testicular Cancer.
- Barr ELM, Magliano DJ, Zimmet PZ, Polkinhorne KR, Atkins RC, Dunstan DW, et al. AusDiab 2005: The Australian diabetes, obesity and lifestyle study: Tracking the accelerating epidemic, its causes and outcomes. Melbourne, Australia: International Diabetes Institute; 2006.
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Guidelines for preventative activities in general practice (7th edition) [online]. 1 May 2009 [cited 12 December 2009]. Available from URL: http://www.racgp.org.au/ Content/ NavigationMenu/ ClinicalResources/ RACGPGuidelines/ TheRedBook/ redbook_7th_edition_May_2009.pdf
- Cancer Council Australia. Position statement: Bowel cancer screening [online]. 24 April 2008 [cited 12 December 2009]. Available from URL: http://www.cancer.org.au// File/ PolicyPublications/ PSbowelcancerscreeningupdatedApril08.pdf
- Cancer Council Australia. Position statement: Prostate cancer screening [online]. April 2008 [cited 12 December 2009]. Available from URL: http://www.cancer.org.au/ File/ PolicyPublications/ Position_statements/ PS-Prostate_cancer_screening_Apr08.pdf
- Cancer Council Australia. Position statement: Testicular cancer [online]. April 2008 [cited 12 December 2009]. Available from URL: http://www.cancer.org.au// File/ PolicyPublications/ PStesticularcancerupdatedApr08.pdf