Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, and men are more likely to get cancer and die from it than women.
There is one factor that may well be a contributory factor; men are far more likely to skip routine health screens than women. This makes it easy to miss the early signs of cancer.
The top cancers that affect men are prostate, colorectal, lung, and skin cancers. Men, you can lower your chance of getting these cancers and others by staying up-to-date on cancer screening tests.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the USA. As a man gets older a diagnosis of prostate cancer increases significantly.
The American Cancer Society estimates in Cancer Facts & Figures 2020 report that 191,930 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020.
These figures are based on an overall population of men. When looked at by race you will here that black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 2.5 times more likely to die compared to white men.
The America Cancer Society says:
“African American men and Caribbean men of African ancestry are more likely to develop prostate cancer than men of other races.”
This statistic gives the impression that it is an inherent issue in the genetic makeup of a race of people, all the way back to ancient Africa. This does not appear to be the case.
The largest study of its kind was done to find why prostate cancer mortality is higher in black men. The disparities in death rates between black and white races were found to be almost entirely due to external circumstances.
Societal factors and access to quality healthcare and guideline-concordant care, rather than genetics or other biological factors, was the cause of the disparity.
Daniel Spratt, M.D., co-Chair of Genitourinary Clinical Research at U-M. says:
“The data show that black men don’t appear to intrinsically and biologically harbor more aggressive disease. They generally get fewer PSA screenings, are more likely to be diagnosed with later stage cancer, are less likely to have health insurance, have less access to high-quality care, and other disparities that can be linked to a lower overall socioeconomic status.”
Risk factors in getting prostate cancer
Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.
Familial Prostate Cancer – about 20% of all prostate cancers are attributed to having family members with a history of this disease. A combination of shared genes and shared environmental or lifestyle factors are listed as a cause.
Hereditary prostate cancer — another familial related cause is when the cancer is inherited from a relative. Changes mutations in genes can be passed down from 1 generation to the next. This is rare and accounts for only about 5% of all cases.
You can’t do anything about the shared genes; however, lifestyle factors are changeable. This is something that is always empathized – having a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet and physical activity are some of the best ways to reduce your risk of cancer, of any kind.
Age – As shown previously, age can be seen as a big factor and probably the biggest in the risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. And also, there is nothing you can do about that. We all get older and will have risks of getting many health problems as time progresses.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
In the early stages of prostate cancer, there are no symptoms. That’s why screenings and yearly check-ups are very important in catching cancer early before it spreads outside the prostate. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
- A weak urinary stream once it starts
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Difficulty starting the urinary stream
- Dribbling after you’re finished
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Pain and/or burning when urinating
- Pain in the genital and pelvic area
- Pain when ejaculating
- Strong urge to urinate immediately
This information can be very stressful to hear by older men. But here is the good news that you won’t see in these statistics. Prostate cancer has one of the highest survival rates of any type of cancer. With early detection and the advanced treatment options available, most men are able to successfully beat this cancer.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States and ranks second when men and women are combined.
Colorectal cancer is so tilted as it combines the terms colon cancer and rectal cancer. This cancer can start either in the rectum of the colon. They are grouped together like this because they have many features in common, including some symptoms.
What is the difference between colon cancer and rectal cancer? If you are diagnosed with either of the two, you will want to know what they have in common and how they differ. The prognosis will affect your treatment options and what you can expect.
Where the cancer starts, either in the colon or rectum matters because of the organs that are close. The colon is not so close to other organs; however, the rectum has the bladder nearby.
In women the uterus and vagina are close, and the prostate is nearby for men. Having these organs close to the rectum affects the kinds of surgeries that can be done to remove tumors.
Cells in just about any part of your body can start to grow out of control and become cancer and spread to other parts of the body. So, colorectal cancer can start in the rectum and spread to the colon or vice versa.
Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomforts, such as cramps, gas or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Signs and symptoms of rectal cancer:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation or more frequent bowel movements.
- A feeling your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Abdominal pain
- Dark or red blood in the stool
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Mucus in stool
- Narrow stool
- Painful bowel movements
More than one‐half of all cases and deaths are attributable to modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and excess body weight, and so potentially preventable. CRC morbidity and mortality can also be mitigated through appropriate screening and surveillance.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer. And the second most common cancer in both men and women (excluding skin cancer). Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 15.
There are 2 major types of lung cancer:
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
About 80% to 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC. The main subtypes of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. These subtypes, which start from different types of lung cells are grouped together as NSCLC because their treatment and prognosis (outlook) are often similar.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
About 10% to 15% of all lung cancers are SCLC and it is sometimes called oat cell cancer. SCLC tends to grow and spread faster than NSCLC. About 70% of people with SCLC will have cancer that has already spread at the time they are diagnosed.
It is important to diagnose and start to treat lung cancer early. The earlier it is diagnosed and treatment is started the more lives that can be saved. Patients that have an extensive smoking history and are 55 years and older should be screened for lung cancer.
Those who have had a short period of smoking in their life or even never smoked may also be at risk if they have exposure to secondhand smoke. Also, exposure to chemicals or exposure to radiation in the past are risk factors.
When lung cancer does cause signs in its early stages, they may vary from person to person but commonly include: A new cough that is persistent or worsens, or a change in an existing chronic cough. Cough that produces blood. Pain in the chest, back or shoulders that worsens during coughing, laughing, or deep breathing.
If you have any of these symptoms, please see your doctor and be screened for lung cancer. If you’re a smoker and you’re concerned about your health and want to quit, it can be difficult. See a smoking cessation specialist and reduce your risk of lung cancer. It could save your life.
There are three main types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Each type corresponds to the layer of the epidermis it has affected. As the cancer goes from superficial to deep through the layers of the skin, the cancer is more serious and harder to treat.
These cancers are thought to be Sun-induced. Men tend to spend more time in the Sun because many may be working outdoors. UV light from the Sun is able to penetrate through these layers of skin cells and cause their DNA to mutate, and that’s how they become cancerous.
Cells normally grow due to mitotic activity, which is a process of dividing. Cancer is the out-of-control dividing of abnormal cells. The deeper layers of skin have more mitotic activity, while the superficial layers have lost most if not all of its mitotic activity.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma gets its name from the layer of the skin called stratum basale, which is the layer of skin with the most mitotic activity. These are the skin cells that replace old cells with new ones. BCC is the most common of all skin cancers because it has the highest mitotic activity.
Fortunately, this cancer is the least able to become malignant or metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). However, they do have a very small risk of metastasizing, get invasive, and get deeper and bigger.
A person with an aggressive basal cell cancer likely faces additional treatment. When left untreated for a long time it often appears as a waxy bump most commonly on the face, neck, and arms. As people live longer there are more chances for these mutations and cancer to develop.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the stratum spinosum, the layer of skin above the basal cell layer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer.
These abnormal growths can develop anywhere looking like scaly red patches, open sores, or warts on the skin. However, they’re usually found in areas that receive the most exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sources can be either from sunlight or from tanning beds or lamps.
Squamous cell carcinoma isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can become dangerous if left untreated. When treatment isn’t received promptly, the growths can increase in size and spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.
Squamous cell carcinomas are not as common because these cells have less mitotic activity than the basal cells below them. But if you develop a squamous cell carcinoma, it’s more dangerous than a basal cell carcinoma because SCC metastasizes easily to the lymph nodes.
Early detection is important to prevent growths from metastasizing. If detected early then they can be removed quickly, which gives a better chance of being cured.
Melanoma is not as common as squamous cell and basal cancers, but more likely to grow and spread if left untreated. It is the most dangerous of all skin cancers, a cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that generate melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.
The melanocytes are located in the bottom layer of the stratum basale, as identified before as the layer of skin with the most mitotic activity.
Patients diagnosed with metastatic (cancer that spreads) melanoma have a higher mortality rate than BCC or SCC due to the resistance of most tumors originating from melanocytes to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
When found early, Melanoma is most likely to be cured. Some people have a higher risk of getting melanoma than others, but anyone can get melanoma. You don’t need expensive tests, you can check your own skin regularly for any moles, blemishes, or birthmarks.
Not all skin cancers look the same, they can appear in many shapes and sizes. Look for skin cancers that are in parts of your body that get more sun, such as the face, head, neck, and arms. But skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body.