Research shows men are less likely than women to visit the doctor regularly, which means they may be missing vital preventive health screenings. June is Men’s Health Month, and as a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program, I am highlighting this important information for the men in your life.
Men are more likely to be diagnosed and die from cancer than women. An estimated 970,250 men in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed and 319,420 are expected to die of these diseases in 2021.
Screening can help detect cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful. At your annual visit, your health care provider can help you determine what cancer screenings are best for you based on your risk factors or symptoms you are experiencing. Here’s an overview of cancer screening tests recommended for men to get you started.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of screening beginning at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history of the disease or are African American. Early detection and prompt treatment of prostate cancer saves lives, but some are treated for cancers that would never cause harm and must deal with treatment side effects or complications.
With colorectal cancer cases in adults under 50 on the rise, it is recommended screening begin at age 45. Screening can detect precancerous polyps, or growths, that can be removed. Screening options are available; talk to your health care provider about which testing option is right for you.
If you are a heavy smoker or former smoker, talk to your health care provider about lung cancer screening. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently released new guidelines, giving a “B” recommendation to people ages 50 to 80 with a 20 pack-year history who currently smoke or quit within the last 15 years. (A “pack-year” is the equivalent of smoking one pack per day for a year.) Private insurance companies must cover screening services with an “A” or “B” grade from the USPSTF. Low-dose spiral CT screening can detect lung cancers early, significantly reducing lung cancer deaths.
Skin cancer is more common among men than women. Check your skin monthly and visit your health care provider if you notice any changes. It is a good idea to have your health care provider examine your skin annually.
Ask your health care provider to examine your testicles during your routine physical. They may also recommend a monthly self-exam to get to know what is normal for you. If you notice any changes, talk with your doctor immediately.
If you have put off your annual physical or routine cancer screenings, now is the time to schedule—and keep—those appointments. Encourage all the men in your life to do the same. To learn more, visit www.preventcancer.org/backonthebooks.
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society.