Mens Health (cont.)

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2. Cancers

Lung cancer is the number one killer among cancers in men, and most are preventable. Smoking causes 90% of all lung cancers and while the number of smokers in the United States has decreased in the past generation, 20% of teenagers smoke and will be the future victims of lung cancer. It is harder to stop smoking than it is to stop many other addictions; nicotine in tobacco is a very addictive drug. Tobacco in its various forms including smokeless or chewing tobacco is related to a variety of other cancers including cancer of the mouth, throat and larynx.

Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, and is a disease of aging and is rarely seen in men younger than 50 years of age. Often prostate cancer causes no symptoms and is diagnosed with routine screening tests including a rectal examination to feel the prostate and a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test. The cure rate for prostate cancer has increased since the wide spread use of PSA testing began but it still accounts for 10% of cancer deaths among men. Prostate cancer screening with digital rectal exam and PSA testing are only indicated in high risk patients or those with symptoms.

Colon and rectal cancers tie with prostate cancer as the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men. There are few symptoms in the early stages of colon and rectal cancers, thus the diagnosis is often made by routinely screening the stool for occult blood (blood that is not visible to the naked eye but can be found by testing the stool sample) and undergoing routine screening colonoscopy. Colon cancer can be nearly completely preventable with timely colonoscopy screenings.

Testicular cancer accounts for only about 1% of cancer in men in the US, but usually occurs in younger men (ages 15 to 39); men can help detect this disease by doing a testicular exam routinely and reporting any testicle abnormalities or symptoms (lumps, swelling, pain) to their health care practitioner.

Living a healthy lifestyle decreases the potential risk of developing cancer. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding toxins in the environment (including smoking and secondhand smoke) are positive lifestyle changes that the average person can control during their lifetime.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2014

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