The American Cancer Society predicts that 855,210 men with be diagnosed with cancer in 2014. In addition, the organization estimates that 310,010 men will die from cancer this year (that figure includes all cases, not just those newly diagnosed in 2014).
Furthermore, while slightly more men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (233,000 vs. 232,620) and even though more men will die from cancer than women in 2014 (310,010 vs. 275,710), cancer in men seems to receive less attention.
Cancer is a scary disease, and there’s certainly not a “who has it worse” competition between the sexes. However, I think cancer in men needs more media coverage. So let’s talk about the types of cancer men are most likely to be diagnosed with and to die from, in addition to a few that are less frequent, but that should be on your radar.
The CDC notes that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. One out of seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. While six out of ten cases occur in men over 65, four in ten are younger than that.
Even if your age doesn’t put you at risk for prostate cancer, if you experience any of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer (these are from the American Cancer Society), see your doctor:
Problems passing urine, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
Blood in the urine (hematuria)
Trouble getting an erection (impotence)
Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer spread to bones
Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.
Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men and the leading cause of cancer death in men. Two out of three cases of lung cancer in men occur over the age of 65.
Unfortunately, the signs of lung cancer often don’t appear until the cancer has reached a more advanced stage. However, the following symptoms of lung cancer are things to look out for:
A cough that does not go away or gets worse
Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
Weight loss and loss of appetite
Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
Shortness of breath
Feeling tired or weak
Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
New onset of wheezing
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer among men and the third leading cause of cancer death in men. It begins in the colon or rectum and while young adults can develop it, 90% of cases occur in people over 50.
The following can be symptoms of colorectal cancer:
A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal
Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
Weakness and fatigue
Unintended weight loss
While testicular cancer is not all that common, the average age of diagnosis is 33, so take note. The great news is that the risk of dying from testicular cancer is very low. It’s a highly treatable cancer. However, as with all cancer, an early diagnosis usually means a better outcome.
The following are symptoms of testicular cancer:
Swelling or a lump in the testicle
Breast growth or soreness
Early signs of puberty (in boys)
It’s very rare, but men can develop breast cancer. Because breast cancer generally strikes women, it’s easy to miss it in men. The incidence is very low — just over 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer in men include the following:
A lump or swelling, which is usually (but not always) painless
Skin dimpling or puckering
Nipple retraction (turning inward)
Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin
Discharge from the nipple
The following chart from The American Cancer Society shows the risk men have of developing different types of cancer over the course of their lifetime.
While there’s no need to be paranoid, as you can see, cancer is a reality for many people. If something seems off, see your doctor. Better to be safe than sorry.