From Jayadev Mettu, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist at OHC
July 5, 2022
One in two men will develop cancer in their lifetime. For reasons that are not yet fully understood, men are more likely than women to develop and die from cancer. One explanation is that men have more exposure to cancer-causing environmental and biologic factors. For example, men are more likely to drink alcohol and use tobacco. Natural hormones and immune function might also play a role. Females have stronger immune responses than males. Studies also reveal that men are less likely to pay attention to their health than women. In most cases, early cancer detection results in more positive outcomes for patients.
Last month was Men’s Health Month, which reminded men to start taking charge of their health by making lifestyle changes to promote cancer prevention, staying up to date on cancer screening guidelines, and being aware of and reporting unusual symptoms early to help reduce the risk or identify earlier signs and symptoms of cancer.
While there are some cancer risk factors that are out of our control, there are several risk factors we can control by being proactive about taking a healthy approach to our lifestyles. Following are cancer prevention strategies to adopt:
- Quit using tobacco products.
- Wear sunscreen and avoid tanning beds to protect skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
- Enjoy a healthy diet including colorful fruits and vegetables.
- If eligible, receive the Gardasil vaccine.
The cancers that most often affect men include prostate, colon, rectal, lung, and skin with prostate cancer being the most common. Cancer may present without symptoms, which points to the importance of staying up to date on the latest cancer screening guidelines. When detected early, some cancers are curable. Getting a colonoscopy, the gold standard in colorectal cancer screening, can actually prevent colorectal cancer as this tool allows doctors to remove polyps, abnormal growths that can develop into cancer, during the procedure.
It is critical to establish a relationship with a family doctor not only to understand your recommended cancer screening guidelines but also to have annual physical exams. After discussing your personal and family health history, your doctor will recommend a screening schedule for you. You can find a list of recommended cancer screening guidelines here.
Know your body and report unusual changes to your doctor. Following are symptoms that men should not overlook:
Urination or bowel changes- blood in urine or stool, constipation or diarrhea that does not subside, painful and/or frequent urination.
- Breast changes or an abnormal lump in the breast or underarm- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every 100 cases of breast cancer occurs in a man.
- Changes in the testicles- lump, change in size, heavy feeling.
- Chronic oral lesions that do not heal.
- Persistent cough or hoarseness with or without blood in sputum.
- Unexplained weight loss and/or fatigue.
- Persistent pain.
- Difficulty swallowing or indigestion.
- Suspicious spots on the skin.
- Chronic fever or night sweats.
- Changes in the lymph nodes- swelling, pain, warm, red color.
As a result of early detection and more advanced treatments, cancer survival rates are improving. By making some lifestyle adjustments, paying attention to your body, and being mindful of the latest cancer screening guidelines and regular physical exams with a doctor, men can help protect themselves from this devastating disease.Comments (0)