Let's be honest, for most of us when we think about osteoporosis we think it's a women's issue. Surprise! Six out of a hundred men over age 65 have osteoporosis.
So who do we screen and when? Men who are older than 70, have low body weight or weight loss and are not physically active are at risk for osteoporosis. Other factors that increase a man's risk are previous fractures, use of certain medications (prednisone or other corticosteroids, meds used to treat prostate cancer), diets low in calcium, and cigarette smoking.
Don't worry guys, it doesn't hurt a bit. The best screening test for men, as with women, is the DEXA scan. This test measures how dense bones are and is called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry . Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is a painless and noninvasive test that uses x-ray beams to measure soft tissue and bone thickness. Newer tests for osteoporosis screening like other x-ray techniques and ultrasound haven't been shown to be any better for screening than the DEXA.
Take Home Message: For our male patients the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends bone density screening with DEXA for men in their 50's or 60's who have the above mentioned risk factors for osteoporosis and are willing to take drugs (bisphosphonates like Fosamax, Boniva, etc) to treat it.