Let's talk about men's health issues
We talk about health issues that are common in men.
June 29, 2020
June is Men’s Health Month. This is the perfect time to raise awareness of health issues that are common in men, such as:
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Skin cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiovascular disease
Learn ways you can better take care of your health and help stop more serious health issues as you age.
About one out of eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. And the chances of getting prostate cancer increase with age.
That's because, as men get older, their prostate grows larger in size and becomes more likely to have problems. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, you’re also more likely to get it.
There are usually no symptoms, but symptoms can include:
- Frequent urges to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination and continuing to urinate after starting
- Problems emptying the bladder completely
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pain or burning feeling during urination
- Painful ejaculation
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection
- Pain in back, hips or pelvis that won’t go away
Because prostate cancer usually grows slowly, it's less likely to spread when detected early on. It's important to get regular screenings. Diet and lifestyle changes have also been shown to lessen prostate cancer development and help stop it from getting worse.
Compared to other types of cancer, testicular cancer is rare. But even so, it’s the most common cancer in American men ages 15 to 35. The cause of testicular cancer is unclear, but abnormal testicle development raises the chances of getting it.
Testicular cancer is also more common in white men than in Black men.
Symptoms of testicular cancer include:
- Lump or enlargement in either testicle
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
- Dull ache in the stomach or groin
- Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
- Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
- Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
- Back pain
Because there is no way to stop testicular cancer, you should talk about self-exams with your primary care provider. You should also schedule an annual physical exam to help with early detection.
Melanoma is more likely to happen in men than women. And the chances of developing melanoma increase over time.
It’s important to protect yourself from the sun. Try these tips:
- Put on sunscreen (SPF 30 or greater)
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
- Wear long sleeves and pants
- Seek shade
- Stay out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Melanoma is treatable when found early on. It's a good idea to do self-exams between dermatology appointments. In order to check hard-to-see areas, ask a partner for help.
About one in 23 American men will get colorectal cancer in their lifetime. If you have average chances of getting colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society says you should start getting screened at age 45.
Talk with your doctor about earlier screening tests if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
- A feeling that your bowel does not empty completely
- Blood in stool
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
There are multiple screening methods to lessen your chances for getting colorectal cancer, including:
- Colonoscopy (typically recommended every 10 years)
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Fecal occult blood test
To lessen your chances of getting of colorectal cancer:
- Eat less red meat
- Get regular physical activity
- Don’t smoke
- Limit how much alcohol you drink
Even after colorectal cancer has been removed, your chances for getting it again go up. Because treatments can become more intense and invasive as colorectal cancer spreads, you should get screened regularly.
There are two different types of high blood pressure:
- Primary hypertension
- Secondary hypertension
Primary or essential hypertension has no known cause. Secondary hypertension is related to another underlying medical condition and can cause higher blood pressure than primary.
There are many factors that can affect your chances of having high blood pressure, including:
- Family history
- Being overweight or obese
- Not being physically active
- Tobacco use
- High-sodium diet
- Not eating enough potassium
- Heavy alcohol use
- Certain chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes and sleep apnea
You can have hypertension for months or even years without symptoms, even when blood pressure becomes dangerously high. When high blood pressure is uncontrolled, you have a greater chance of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious health problems.
You should have an annual blood pressure check with your primary care provider. Also, many pharmacies have free monitors available to check your blood pressure yourself.
To better take care of high blood pressure, you should:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet with less salt
- Get regular physical activity
- Keep to a healthy weight or lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Limit how much alcohol you drink
Obesity and cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to medical problems that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to:
- A heart attack
- Chest pain
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. One in four American men die from heart disease. You have a greater chance of getting heart disease if you're overweight or obese.
Other medical problems and lifestyle factors that raise your chances of getting heart disease include:
- Having diabetes
- Not having a healthy diet
- Physical inactivity or not moving enough
- Drinking too much alcohol
Obesity is usually figured out by using body mass index (BMI). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online tool to help you figure out if you're at a healthy weight.
Obesity is associated with internal inflammation and can affect how well your heart works. It also raises your chances of having sleep apnea.
To improve heart health, you should:
- Get physical activity
- Eat healthy foods
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Practice ways to lessen stress in your life
If you need help, providers in our lifestyle and metabolic medicine department can help you find a weight management program.
Make an appointment
See your primary care doctor at least once a year regardless of how old you are. Schedule any health screenings that are due. Try to be aware of your body and report any unusual changes to your primary care provider right away.
To stop illness and find it early on, keep up a healthy lifestyle. This will help lower your chances of developing long-term health problems.
By Shane G.S. Jhooty, MD
- American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Guideline for Colorectal Cancer Screening. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- American Cancer Society. Risk of getting melanoma. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Obesity: Why It Matters. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men and Heart Disease. Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer? Accessed November 18, 2020.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who Is at Risk for Prostate Cancer? Accessed November 18, 2020.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.