By: Dr. Scott Kuper
Last May, Dr. Amanda and I were blessed with the birth of our baby girl Abigail. With the addition of this new life, I started to take an inventory of my own life. It had been several years since I had a routine physical, and even longer since I had seen any type of specialist. I had no symptoms of any kind and felt healthy as could be, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to just make sure. I made a few “check-up” appointments, including one with a dermatologist.
The dermatologist did a thorough, painless exam looking over the surface of my skin. She found one spot that looked a little suspicious, so she took a small biopsy to be safe. A few days later I get a phone call that the pathology report came back positive for malignant melanoma. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (insert link: http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/melanoma), although malignant melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, it is the most dangerous form causing the most deaths annually.
Thankfully the dermatologist was able to remove the entire tumor before it became more invasive. I’ve been continuing to see her regularly for follow up screenings, and am approaching one year since the tumor was found with no other evidence of cancer except the small scar on my chest.
According to a study performed by the American Association of Family Physicians (insert link: http://www.aafp.org/media-center/releases-statements/all/kits/20070619.html ), 55% of men have not seen their primary care physician in over a year. This means that most men have not seen their doctor for any illness or injury, let alone any routine health screenings. I don’t think this comes as too much of a surprise to anyone, and our spouses would likely agree- men tend to be stubborn, and try to “tough it out.” In fact, in the same study, 29% of men admit to waiting “as long as possible” before seeking help when they are concerned about their health.
There are many reasons behind why men may delay or go without seeing their doctor. I’ve probably used most of them already myself! But had I not scheduled that routine check-up, I would never have known that I had cancer, and I might be writing a completely different story right now. So please, if you haven’t had a routine physical in a while, or skipped a test because you felt fine, make the time to follow up. Having a check-up won’t hurt. But NOT having that check-up just might.
If you have any questions or health concerns of any kind that you would like to discuss with me or with Dr. Amanda, please schedule an appointment. Although we specialize in musculoskeletal conditions, our education at a minimum can help guide you to the proper specialist if necessary.