JUNE IS MEN’S HEALTH MONTH: A Call to Take Action
Men, all eyes are on you this month. Not only is Father’s Day in June, but it’s also Men’s Health Month, so it’s a great time to schedule the routine cancer screenings you need. If you’ve been putting off your doctors’ appointments, you could be missing lifesaving screenings.
An estimated 983,160 men in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2022. In Maryland alone, 493 per every 100,000 males will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Men are at greater risk of both being diagnosed and dying of cancer than women in the U.S.
According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate, lung and colorectal cancers account for an estimated 43% of all cancers diagnosed in men in 2020. (Skin cancer is the most diagnosed, but exact numbers are unknown.) Fortunately, you can be screened for these cancers, and when detected early, treatment is more likely to be successful.
Colorectal cancer screening should begin when you’re 45 if you’re at average risk. The colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening, but talk to your health care provider about testing options, how often you should be screened and what test might work for you. (There are approved stool-based tests that can be done from home.) If you have a family history, your provider may recommend you begin screening sooner.
If you’re at average risk for prostate cancer, talk to your health care provider about the pros and cons of screening starting at age 50. If you are Black or have a close relative (father or brother) who had prostate cancer before age 65, start this talk when you are 45. If more than one close relative had prostate cancer before 65, begin discussing when you turn 40. Although it can be detected early and treated effectively, some men are treated for prostate cancers that would never be harmful and may experience side effects or complications with treatment.
Lung cancer screening may be recommended if you smoke or smoked in the past. Ask your health care provider about screening if you are a current or former smoker aged 50-80 with a 20 pack-year history. (A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year.)
Men are at greater risk for skin cancer than women. That risk increases as you age. Have your health care provider examine your skin annually or visit a dermatologist for a skin check. Check your skin monthly to note any changes; let your health care provider know if you notice any unusual or changing moles.
Although testicular cancer isn’t as common as other cancers, it most frequently affects younger men ages 20-34 who might not think about their risk for cancer. Perform monthly self-exams to know what is normal for you, and let your provider know if you notice any changes.
Whether you’re a father, an uncle, a grandfather or a father figure to the young men and women in your life, you are often watched as a role model. Set a good example: get your routine cancer screening appointments back on the books today. Learn more at www.preventcancer.org/backonthebooks.
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.