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Men's Health Week: Regular Screenings Can Save Lives in South Dakota

June 16, 2009

Columbus - National Men's Health Week is the time to raise awareness of preventable diseases and treatment. During this week leading up to Father's Day, South Dakotans can celebrate a healthy lifestyle and get Dad his regular screenings.

Women out-live men, but the life expectancy gap is shrinking. That may sound like good news, but men still need to pay attention to their health. One reason why; men tend to put off routine checkups and ignore symptoms of a health problem. And then there are health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate and testicular cancers, both of which can be fatal.

Here's the real good news: Many of the diseases men face can be prevented or treated if found early. Sara Hamilton, spokeswoman with Planned Parenthood, says they are raising awareness and trying to change mind sets during Men's Health week.

"Unfortunately, men just don't have that kind of regular checkup that they go in for, and they have that mentality of 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.'"

Other major health risks that men face include colon cancer, heart disease and sexually-transmitted diseases, all of which can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately 19 million new sexually-transmitted disease infections each year, and many people may not even know they're infected. The biggest problem, according to Hamilton, is often times there are no symptoms.

"And so sometimes you don't know what's going on, and if those infections go without being treated they can cause infertility on down the line."

If left untreated, health experts say, some STDs, like syphilis, can be fatal. There's also concern the STD will be passed between partners; all the more reason, Hamilton says, to get screened.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - SD