Men's Cancers

June is Men's Health Awareness Month

The cancers that most frequently affect men are:

Knowing about these cancers and how they can be prevented or found early can save your life.

 

Prostate Cancer

The chance of getting prostate cancer goes up as a man gets older. Most prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65. For reasons that are still unknown, African American men are more likely than white men to develop prostate cancer. Having one or more close relatives with prostate cancer also increases a man's risk of having prostate cancer.

SCREENING AND PREVENTION - What you can do

The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer. Starting at age 50 talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of testing so you can decide if getting tested is the right choice for you. If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with your doctor starting at age 45. If you decide to be tested, you should have the PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you are tested will depend on your PSA level.

Learn more about this test by reading U-M offers new early detection test for prostate cancer

RISK FACTORS

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lungs, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, esophagus, kidneys, bladder, colon, and several other organs.

But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors.

The following are the risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Age
    Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer.
  • Race/Ethnicity
    Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races.
  • Nationality
    Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. The reasons for this are not clear.
  • Family History
    Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man's risk of developing this disease.
  • Genes
    Scientists have found several inherited genes that seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but they probably account for only a small number of cases overall. Genetic testing for most of these genes is not yet available.
  • Diet
    The exact role of diet in prostate cancer is not clear, but several different factors have been studied. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk.
  • Obesity
    Most studies have not found that being obese (having a high amount of extra body fat) is linked with a higher risk of getting prostate cancer.
  • Exercise
    Exercise has not been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk in most studies. But some studies have found that high levels of physical activity, particularly in older men, may lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer. More research in this area is needed.
  • Smoking
    A recent study linked smoking to a small increase in the risk of death from prostate cancer. This is a new finding, and will need to be confirmed by other studies.
  • Inflammation of the prostate
    Some studies have suggested that prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, but other studies have not found such a link. Inflammation is often seen in samples of prostate tissue that also contain cancer. The link between the two is not yet clear, but this is an active area of research.
  • Infection
    Researchers have also looked to see if sexually transmitted infections (like gonorrhea or chlamydia) might increase the risk of prostate cancer, possibly by leading to inflammation of the prostate. So far, studies have not agreed, and no firm conclusions have been reached.
  • Vasectomy
    Some earlier studies had suggested that men who had a vasectomy (minor surgery to make men infertile) -- especially those younger than 35 at the time of the procedure -- may have a slightly increased risk for prostate cancer. But most recent studies have not found any increased risk among men who have had this operation. Fear of an increased risk of prostate cancer should not be a reason to avoid a vasectomy.

Lung Cancer

Smoking is the cause for more than 80% of all lung cancers, but people who do not smoke can also have lung cancer.

SCREENING AND PREVENTION - What you can do
Lung cancer is one of the few cancers that can often be prevented. If you are a smoker, ask your doctor or nurse to help you quit. If you don't smoke, don't start, and avoid breathing in other peoples smoke. If your friends and loved ones are smokers, help them quit.

RISK FACTORS
A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lungs, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, esophagus, kidneys, bladder, colon, and several other organs.

But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. The following are the risk factors for lung cancer:

  • Tobacco Smoke:
    Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. In the early 20th century, lung cancer was much less common than some other types of cancer. But this changed once manufactured cigarettes became readily available and more people began smoking.

    About 87% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. The risk for lung cancer among smokers is many times higher than among non-smokers. The longer you smoke and the more packs a day you smoke, the greater your risk.
  • Radon:
    Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks. It cannot be seen, tasted, or smelled. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and is the leading cause among non-smokers.
  • Asbestos:
    Workplace exposure to asbestos fibers is an important risk factor for lung cancer.
  • Radiation therapy to the lungs
    People who have had radiation therapy to the chest for other cancers are at higher risk for lung cancer, particularly if they smoke. Typical patients are those treated for Hodgkin disease or women who get radiation after a mastectomy for breast cancer. Women who receive radiation therapy to the breast after a lumpectomy do not appear to have a higher than expected risk of lung cancer.
  • Arsenic
    High levels of arsenic in drinking water may increase the risk of lung cancer. This is even more pronounced in smokers.
  • Personal or family history of lung cancer
    If you have had lung cancer, you have a higher risk of developing another lung cancer. Brothers, sisters, and children of those who have had lung cancer may have a slightly higher risk of lung cancer themselves, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a younger age. It is not clear how much of this risk might be due to genetics and how much might be from shared household exposures (such as tobacco smoke or radon).
  • Certain dietary supplements
    Studies looking at the possible role of antioxidant supplements in reducing lung cancer risk have not been promising so far. In fact, 2 large studies found that smokers who took beta carotene supplements actually had an increased risk of lung cancer. The results of these studies suggest that smokers should avoid taking beta carotene supplements.
  • Air Pollution
    In cities, air pollution (especially from heavily trafficked roads) appears to raise the risk of lung cancer slightly. This risk is far less than the risk caused by smoking, but some researchers estimate that worldwide about 5% of all deaths from lung cancer may be due to outdoor air pollution.

 

Skin Cancer

Anyone who spends time in the sun can have skin cancer. People with fair skin, especially those with blond or red hair, are more likely to get skin cancer than people with darker coloring. People who have had a close family member with melanoma and those who had severe sunburns before the age of 18 are more likely to get skin cancer.

SCREENING AND PREVENTION - What you can do

Most skin cancers can be prevented by avoiding the midday sun. Be aware of all moles and spots on your skin, and report any changes to your doctor right away. Have a skin exam during your regular health check-ups.

Source: American Cancer Society - Cancer Facts: Men

RISK FACTORS

A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lungs, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, esophagus, kidneys, bladder, colon, and several other organs.

But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. The following are the risk factors for skin cancer:

  • Ultraviolet(UV) UV light exposure
    Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation, which can damage the genes in your skin cells. Tanning lamps and booths are also sources of UV radiation. People with high levels of exposure to light from these sources are at greater risk for skin cancer, including melanoma.
  • Moles
    A nevus (the medical name for a mole) is a benign (non-cancerous) melanocytic tumor. Moles are not usually present at birth but begin to appear in children and teenagers. Most moles will never cause any problems, but a person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
  • Fair skin, freckling and light hair
    The risk of skin cancer is much higher for whites than for African Americans or Hispanics. The risk of melanoma is more than 10 times higher for whites than for African Americans. This is because skin pigment has a protective effect. Whites with red or blond hair or fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at increased risk. Red-haired people have the highest risk.
  • Family history of melanoma
    Your risk of melanoma is greater if 1 or more of your first-degree relatives (mother, father, brother, sister, child) has been diagnosed with melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.
  • Personal history
    A person who has already had melanoma has an increased risk of getting melanoma again. About 5% to 10% of people with melanoma will develop a second one at some point. Anyone who has had a keratinocyte cancer has a much higher chance of developing another one.
  • Immune suppression
    People who have been treated with medicines that severely suppress the immune system, such as organ transplant patients; have an increased risk of developing melanoma. The immune system helps the body fight cancers of the skin and other organs. People with weakened immune systems (due to certain diseases or medical treatments) are more likely to develop non-melanoma skin cancer, particularly squamous cell cancer.
  • Long-term or severe skin inflammation or injury
    Scars from severe burns, areas of skin over severe bone infections, and skin damaged by some severe inflammatory skin diseases are more likely to develop keratinocyte skin cancers, although this risk is generally small.
  • Age
    Although melanoma is less related to aging than most other cancers, it is still more likely to occur in older people. But this is a cancer that is also found in younger people. In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people younger than 30. Melanoma that runs in families may occur at a younger age. The risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancers goes up as people get older.
  • Gender
    In the United States, men have a higher rate of melanoma than women. Men are about 2 times as likely as women to have basal cell cancers and about 3 times as likely to have squamous cell cancers of the skin. This is thought to be due mainly to higher levels of sun exposure.
  • Xeroderma pigmentosum
    Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) is a rare, inherited condition resulting from a defect in an enzyme that normally repairs damage to DNA. People with XP have a high risk for developing both melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers at a young age.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
    Exposure to large amounts of arsenic increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
  • Radiation exposure
    People who have had radiation treatment have a higher risk of developing skin cancer in the area that received the treatment.
  • Psoriasis treatment
    Psoralen and ultraviolet light treatments (PUVA) given to some patients with psoriasis (a long-lasting inflammatory skin disease) can increase the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer and probably other skin cancers also.
  • Basal cell nevus syndrome
    This rare congenital (present at birth) condition causes multiple basal cell cancers. Most, but not all, cases are inherited.
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
    Human papilloma viruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 100 viruses that can cause papillomas, or warts. The warts that people commonly get on their hands and feet appear to be unrelated to any form of cancer. But some of the HPV types, especially those that people get in their genital and anal area, appear to be related to skin cancers in these areas.
  • Smoking
    People who smoke are more likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer, especially on the lips. Smoking is not a known risk factor for basal cell cancer.

 

Colon Cancer

Any adult can have colorectal cancers (cancers of the colon and rectum), but most of these cancers are found in people age 50 or older. People with a personal or family history of this cancer, or who have polyps in their colon or rectum, or those with inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to have colon cancer. Also, eating a diet mostly of high fat foods (especially from animal sources), being overweight, smoking and being inactive can make a person more likely to have colon cancer.

SCREENING AND PREVENTION - What you can do

Colon cancer almost always starts with a polyp. Testing can save lives by finding polyps before they become cancer. If pre-cancerous polyps are removed, colon cancer can be prevented. Eating a low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables may also make you less likely to have this cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends one of the following testing options for all people beginning at age 50:

Tests that find polyps and cancer

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*, or
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*, or
  • CT colongraphy (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*

Tests that primarily find cancer

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT)**, or
  • Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT)**, or
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain**

*If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done.

**The multiple stool take-home test should be used. One test done by the doctor is not adequate for testing. A colonoscopy should be done if the test is positive.

RISK FACTORS
A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposing skin to strong sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Smoking is a risk factor for cancers of the lungs, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, esophagus, kidneys, bladder, colon, and several other organs.

But risk factors don't tell us everything. Having a risk factor, or even several risk factors, does not mean that you will get the disease. And some people who get the disease may not have any known risk factors. The following are the risk factors for colon cancer:

  • Age
    Younger adults can develop colorectal cancer, but the chances increase markedly after age 50; More than 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50.
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
    If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. This is especially true if the polyps are large or if there are many of them.
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, is a condition in which the colon is inflamed over a long period of time.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
    Most colorectal cancers occur in people without a family history of colorectal cancer. Still, as many as 1 in 5 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by this disease.
  • Inherited syndromes
    About 5% to 10% of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene defects (mutations) that cause the disease.
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
    HNPCC, also known as Lynch syndrome, accounts for about 3% to 5% of all colorectal cancers.
  • Racial and ethnic background
    African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the United States. The reasons for this are not yet understood. Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world. Several gene mutations leading to an increased risk of colorectal cancer have been found in this group. The most common of these DNA changes, called the I1307K APC mutation, is present in about 6% of American Jews.
  • Lifestyle-related factors
    Several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer. In fact, the links between diet, weight, and exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.

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