Cancer and Men
Every year, cancer claims the lives of nearly 300,000 men in America. Men can reduce their risk for several common cancers.
Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke
More men in the United States die from lung cancer than any other kind of cancer, and cigarette smoking causes most cases. Smoking also causes acute myeloid leukemia and cancers of the esophagus, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, and stomach. Secondhand smoke increases nonsmokers' lung cancer risk by 20%–30%. Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
One of the most important things you can do to lower your risk of cancer is to stop smoking if you smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
Obesity, Overweight, and Lack of Physical Activity
For more than 30 years, excess weight, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet have been considered second only to tobacco use as preventable causes of disease and death in the United States. Since the 1960s, tobacco use has decreased by a third while obesity rates have doubled.
In men, the following cancers are associated with obesity: colorectal, esophageal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers, and possibly prostate cancer. Adopting a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity can help lower your risk for these cancers.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The two most common kinds of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but they can be disfiguring since they often occur on the face and head. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is often deadly. About 65%–90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light—an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. Overall, men have higher rates of melanoma. But among young people, women get it more.
A few serious sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer. To protect your skin from the sun, seek shade or go indoors during midday hours; wear long sleeves and long pants, a hat with a wide brim, and sunglasses; and use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Baseball caps and visors only provide shade on the face, leaving the neck, ears, and scalp exposed. If you're going to spend time outdoors, choose a hat with a wide brim that goes all the way around your head.
Indoor tanning exposes users to UV rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer. Tanning beds are particularly dangerous for young people; those who begin tanning before age 35 have a 60% to 80% higher risk of melanoma. Using tanning beds also increases the risk of wrinkles and eye damage, and changes skin texture.
Types of Cancer
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in men. All men are at risk for prostate cancer, but older men, African-American men, and men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk.
CDC and other federal agencies follow the prostate cancer screening recommendations set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends against PSA-based screening for men who do not have symptoms.
Understanding that men and their doctors may continue to screen for prostate cancer, CDC continues to support informed decision making, which occurs when a man—
- Understands the nature and risk of prostate cancer.
- Understands the risks of, benefits of, and alternatives to screening.
- Participates in making the decision to be screened or not at a level he wants.
- Makes a decision consistent with his preferences and values.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer
The third leading cause of cancer deaths in American men is colorectal cancer. Screening tests for colorectal cancer can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best. Both men and women should be tested for colorectal cancer regularly starting at age 50, even if they don't have any symptoms.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control
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