One in two men will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. And, one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American men, just behind lung cancer.
What are some easy tips for men to help men prevent cancer? There are a lot of things men can do to protect themselves from cancer:
Avoid tobacco - even celebratory cigars - and limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day.
Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active each day.
Maintain a healthy diet. Make fruits and vegetables the biggest part of every meal and go easy on the meat. Limit the amount of red meat you eat to 18 oz. week and avoid processed meats like hot dogs and pepperoni.
Wear sunscreen and practice sun safety.
See a doctor regularly and get the screening exams you need. Many men avoid seeing a doctor because they're afraid, but if you do have a chronic disease like cancer, diabetes or heart disease, the earlier we catch it, the easier it will be to treat.
Keep in mind that doing these things doesn't guarantee you won't get cancer. But living a healthy lifestyle can put you in fighting shape if you do develop cancer.
What cancer screening exams do men need? And, when should most men start screening? Most men need both a prostate exam (digital rectal exam and PSA test) and a colonoscopy starting at age 50. This is the appropriate age for screening if you don't have a family history (father, son, brother) of prostate or colon cancer and you're not African American, which can make you more likely to develop these cancers.
If you're at average risk for colon cancer, you'll need a colonoscopy every 10 years after that. If you have a family or personal history, you'll need to get a colonoscopy at age 40.
Most men should get screened for prostate cancer every year starting at age 50. If you're African American or have a family history (brother, son, father) of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about getting a digital rectal exam and PSA test to screen for prostate cancer every year starting at age 45.
Also, men ages 20 and older should also practice testicular and skin awareness. Become familiar with your skin and testicles and report any changes to your doctor right away.
How does having a family history of cancer impact a man's personal chances of developing cancer? For men, colon, prostate and pancreatic cancers can run in the family. Male breast cancer is rare, but it can also run in the family.
You're at greater risk for an inherited cancer if one or more close blood relatives were diagnosed before 50 or if they've had two or more different cancers. You're also at increased risk if close blood relatives had the same type of cancer, or had a rare cancer or a BRCA mutation.
Why are some groups now advising men not to get PSA testing? Not all prostate cancer is deadly, and research has shown that widespread PSA screening for prostate cancer can lead to detection of non-lethal forms of the disease, which can cause a lot of men to worry and get aggressive treatment that's not really necessary.
So, it's important for men to talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of screening before getting PSA testing. And, if prostate screening shows that you have prostate cancer, talk to your doctor to find out whether it's appropriate to treat it. Only men with aggressive forms of prostate cancer should be treated.