Most recently, the American Cancer Society changed its recommendations on the age people should be screened for colorectal cancer, lowering the age from 50 to 45, after seeing an increase in the cancer among younger people. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that men aged 55-69 talk with their doctors about preforming a PSA-based screening for prostate cancer. Ana Fadich, vice president of Men’s Health Network, said African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should get the screenings done at 40.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, the most recent year that data is available, 28,343 men died from prostate cancer in the United States, with 364 of those deaths in Kentucky alone.
One of the reasons screenings are so important is because cancers like the one that shows up in the prostate don’t show any warning signs.
“You have to know your body because a lot of cancers don’t show problems,” Fadich said.
More often than not, the tumor that grows as a result of the cancer doesn’t push against anything inside of the body which would cause pain, making it a silent threat.
With that being said, there are some signs your body can give which can be indicative of prostate cancer. Difficulty starting or holding urination, pressure or pain in the rectum and the need to urinate frequently, especially at night, can all be signs that something could be wrong. But the catch 22 is, the symptoms can also be underlying symptoms of a different problem, such as Prostatitis, an enlargement of the prostate.
Fadich said there are three important screenings men should get regularly, especially if they meet the age requirements. Prostate, colon/rectal, and lung screenings are among the top, but Fadich adds that skin cancer screenings are important as well.
“Skin cancer is another big one, especially in men who are lighter skinned. Men don’t typically wear sunscreen, because they think of it like lotion or they don’t want to smell all fruity,” Fadich said.
While at the beach or sitting poolside, Fadich said men are rarely seen applying sunscreen to their heads or faces, but the use of the product can help to reduce sunburn. Just one sunburn can increase a person’s chance of skin cancer, she said. Make sure to wear a hat, or weather-appropriate clothing to help eliminate the chance of exposure, and when applying sunscreen, be sure to put it everywhere, including between the toes.
“Sunscreen can protect everything, but only if you’re getting all areas, including the ears and toes,” Fadich said.
Fadich also recommends having someone help you look at your skin, especially in the hard-to see-spots. If you have sores that just don’t seem to be healing, moles that have changed shape or color or show signs of redness and swelling, Fadich recommends getting it checked out.
When it comes to lung cancer, one of the myths Fadich said experts in the medical field are trying to demystify is that only people who smoke develop it. According to Fadich, environmental factors can play into it as well. People who work with asbestos, or who work in a plastics factory, can develop lung cancer simply by doing their jobs.
According to the CDC, 84,859 men died in 2014 from lung cancer, with 1,987 of those deaths in Kentucky. Fadich said signs to be aware of for possible lung cancer include bleeding or discharge from lungs when coughing, coughing more often than one normally would, a lump around your chest, and having problems breathing.
But it’s important to remember that symptoms are symptoms, and no matter what’s most likely to be causing them, you should get them checked out by a doctor.
But even if someone tests positive for a certain cancer, Fadich said it isn’t the end of their life. There are many options out there, especially depending on the level and type of cancer, that one can take.
Visit http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/ for more information on men’s health.