Get Checked Up

Men’s health isn’t just the name of a magazine; it’s something every man should be taking more seriously, and the experience of one Lanzarote resident shows how important this is.

Last July, Lanzarote photographer Ronn Ballantyne of Puerto del Carmen received the results of his regular blood test at his local health centre. The results showed alarmingly high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels, which had leapt from 4.5 to 14.5.

Ronn booked a biopsy with Dr Saenz, a urologist who works as Head of Urology at the General Hospital and also runs a private practice in Arrecife. Although Ronn has suffered none of the symptoms of prostate cancer, the biopsy confirmed the diagnosis and established that the cancer had not spread.Read more...


An operation for 21st December was postponed at Ronn’s request, and on Feb 5th last month he went into the General Hospital “It went like clockwork,” he told us, “I woke up thinking the anaesthetic hadn’t worked properly, but in fact it was all over. It was the height of professionalism.” Tests taken after the operation confirmed that Ronn is now totally clear.
Afterwards, while chatting to male friends, Ronn discovered that several of them were surprised to hear of his experience. Some of them had not had a check-up in recent years, and many were unaware that such prompt, efficient diagnosis and procedures were available on the island. “The response was “What the hell?” says Ronn.

Ronn tells us he wants to “fly the flag” for these services and encourage men on Lanzarote to take full advantage of them. “Prostate cancer is slow. Many men die from it and many more die with it,” he says, “It doesn’t have to be that way.” Ronn advised all of his clients that he would be out of action for a few weeks and every one of them was happy to put the work on hold until he fully recovered.

The Canarian Health Service provides free, comprehensive health checks on request, and last year it introduced much -needed screening facilities for cancer of the colon to Lanzarote. Men under 30 should have a check up every three years; those aged 30-50 every two years while men over 50 are advised to have a full check-up every year.

Man up! Get a check up!
Men die, on average, five years earlier than women. There is no physical reason for this, and many doctors believe that men’s attitude towards taking care of their health could be a strong factor.

Perhaps it’s an idea of masculinity that persuades men to carry on without complaining and only attend a doctor when health matters get serious; perhaps it’s an “everything’s going to be OK” attitude – there are several theories.

But the fact is that millions of men are taking unnecessary risks that can shorten their lives and damage those of their loved ones and dependents. Getting yourself checked up regularly is a responsibility you owe not only to yourself, but to those around you.