News & Events

Posted June 27, 2018

Men Cancer Screenings

Staying healthy means keeping lots of balls, like exercising and cooking and drinking enough water and managing stress, in the air for a juggling act that can get overwhelming and exhausting, especially when family, work and household responsibilities seem to get bigger and heavier over time.

But cancer screenings should be one small ball you add to your routine to prevent bigger complications down the road.

Last time, we talked about men’s tendency to avoid the doctor, ask for help, take a few too many risks, and how these tendencies work against men’s best interests for their health and well-being. These same tendencies mean some specific concerns – like prostate cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer – are often put off for too long.

Prostate, lung and colorectal cancers are the three most common cancers among men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with lung and prostate cancers causing the highest number of men’s cancer-related deaths. Cancer screenings, then, are important tools for detecting problems early.

If you think about it, screening is a good way to get yourself to the doctor for a check-up because you don’t have to wait for something to be wrong to go in. It’s kind of like getting the oil changed on a car or motorcycle – you change the oil when you’re supposed to, not because something is wrong. In fact, you change the oil to prevent something from becoming wrong.

Changing the oil is inconvenient, time consuming and, if you do it yourself, messy. But you do it because it has to be done for the long-term operation of your engine. As a result, you don’t have to wonder if you’re bothering the oil-change guy or if someone will think you’re weak for getting your oil changed, because changing the oil is what good engine-owners do to ensure their engines run for a long time.

Your body is your personal engine and you want it to run for a long time, too. Going to the doctor for regular checkups and cancer screenings is the oil-change cancer-prevention ball that can easily be added to your maintenance routine.

To help you figure out whether and when you should be screened, please talk with your health care provider. Generally speaking, though, the following guidelines from the CDC can point you in the right direction for when you should be screened:

Type of Cancer Screening Method When to Get Screened*
Colorectal (colon) cancer Colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) If you are 50 to 75 years old, get tested. The schedule depends on the type of test used.
Lung cancer Low-dose CT scan If you are 55 to 80 years old and are a heavy smoker or a past smoker who quit within the last 15 years, get a low-dose CT scan every year.
Prostate cancer Digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) test Talk to your doctor.
Skin cancer Periodic total-body exams by a clinician Talk to your doctor


Of course, if you are having symptoms of some kind – for anything, not just cancer – get professional medical advice from your health care provider.