Visiting the doctor is not a sign of weakness, especially if it’s for preventative reasons. In some cases, various cancers can be avoided, if warning signs are detected early enough. Experts at the ProMedica Cancer Institute have helped identify the top cancers affecting men, and what can be done to reduce your risks. Yes, this definitely includes visiting your doctor for the recommended screenings. But these routine visits are much better than enduring cancer and expensive treatment — and they may even save your life.
1. Prostate Cancer: Generally, prostate cancer develops later in life and the risk of developing this disease increases with age. It is mostly found in men over the age of 65. Prostate cancer is more prevalent among African American males. A man’s risk is also increased if he has one or more close relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Our Advice: Begin regular prostate screenings, such as a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, starting at age 50. PSA is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, and this blood test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. Men with prostate cancer often have elevated blood levels of PSA. Keep an open dialog with your family doctor about the pros and cons of testing, and which methods are right for you.
2. Colon Cancer: Colon cancer can develop in both male and female adults, but it’s more common in people over the age of 50. Cancers of the colon almost always start with a polyp — a growth on the colon — that can be removed if caught in the early stages. Unhealthy behaviors such as eating high fat foods, smoking and remaining inactive may increase your risks.
Our Advice: The good news is some colon cancers are preventable and testing saves lives. Start the discussion by weighing the available screening options, including flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at 50. Remember that an active lifestyle may also aid in prevention. Try encouraging healthy physical activities with your spouse, family or friends, such as walking at the park, joining a gym, and cooking healthy meals for one another.
3. Lung Cancer: While smoking is the cause of more than 80% of all lung cancers, people who do not smoke are also susceptible. Lung cancer remains the leading cancer death in both men and women, causing more deaths than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.
Our Advice: Lung cancer is one of the few cancers that can often be prevented. If you or your partner smokes, please seek help to quit as soon as possible. ProMedica offers several tobacco treatment classes and support groups to help kick the habit. Limit your exposure to second and third-hand smoke by opting for smoke-free environments when you travel.
4. Skin Cancer: Skin cancer is a threat to every human under the sun, but men and women with fair skin and blonde or red hair are especially vulnerable. Those who tan and experience severe sunburn before the age of 18 are at higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Our Advice: Protecting yourself from harmful UV rays isn’t impossible. One easy solution is wearing a hat with a brim, sunglasses and sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Also be on the lookout for moles and changes or spots on your skin. If you notice anything different, it’s time to seek a doctor’s advice.
For more information about the importance of regular checkups and screenings, please consult your primary care physician.