Men of Action: Proactive Practices to Help Guys Catch Cancer Early
It’s no secret that early detection of cancer can increase survival chances—but that knowledge doesn’t necessarily lead to action when the time comes. This can be especially true with men.
“Men often ignore warnings signs—they will find an excuse,” says Amir Mortazavi, MD, Co-Director, Division of Medical Oncology and a specialist in genitourinary cancers (kidney, bladder, testicular, penile, prostate) at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
Oncologists around the country are sounding the alarm about the dangers of passive approaches to cancer detection with hopes of encouraging men to take proactive roles in their own healthcare. To help accomplish this, Mortazavi has some tips to give guys the know-how they need to identify possible warning signs of cancer that should prompt trips to the doctor.
Here’s how you or a guy you love can become a man of action when it comes to cancer detection:
Bladder and Kidney Cancers
“If you have blood in your urine you need to immediately see a urologist, and you need to be screened. We have an expression, that when a man sees blood in his urine, it’s cancer until proven otherwise.
Bladder and kidney cancers are more prevalent in men than women, especially Caucasian males aged 50 and older who are long-time smokers, and men with family histories of those forms of the disease.
“In the majority of cases, it presents early, and early detection can result in a very high cure rate. If you ignore it and it grows and gets deeper and spreads, that can take lives.”
Testicular cancer disproportionally impacts younger men, often in their 20s and sometimes in their teens. Once again early detection is key, so men and teenage boys can give themselves the best chances of survival by checking for lumps and bumps once a month.
“We do a poor job nationally of educating men to examine themselves,” Mortzavi says. “Testicular cancer is highly curable by removing the testicle, and even if it is advanced, the cure rate is high.”
Prostate cancer screening is a little more complicated, and there is a national debate on whether every man should be tested on a regular basis.
Mortazavi encourages men to talk with their doctors about screening, but the choice ultimately lies with each patient—though he does urge men at elevated risk to undergo the procedures on a regular basis.
“Men with a family history should be screened regularly, as well as black men, who as a group have a higher rate of prostate cancer. Some studies suggest these screenings should start at 40 rather than 50.”
Prevention and Treatment
Of course, the best way to beat cancer is to avoid it in the first place, and proven preventative practices—like proper nutrition—can go a long way toward helping men get good news when they visit their doctors for checkups and screenings.
“You want a diverse diet, one filled with fruits and vegetables and nuts and whole grains,” Mortavazi says. “And fish, but not a lot of red meat.”
And for those men who do develop cancer, doctors like Mortavazi and his OSUCCC – James colleagues are equipped with the expertise and technology to help them defeat the disease.
“The science and innovation are mind-blowing,” he says. “I see patients that I know three or five years ago wouldn’t have had a good outcome, and now, I know they’ll be around to celebrate many birthdays, weddings and graduation parties.”