December 12, 2018
Men and Cancer

Men and Cancer

by Berkeley Wellness

The American Cancer Society estimated that 855,000 men, most of them middle-aged to elderly, were diagnosed with cancer in 2013. Excluding skin cancer, three types of cancer— prostate, lung and colorectal—accounted for the majority of these new cases and also for the majority of the estimated 307,000 men who died in 2013 of cancer.

Yet two of these leading causes of cancer-related deaths in men are highly preventable. Most deaths from lung cancer are attributable to smoking: When smoking rates decline, so, invariably, do rates of lung cancer. And better techniques for early diagnosis of colon cancer and of precancerous growths have significantly reduced both the incidence and mortality rates from this disease during the past 10 years. Even the death rate from prostate cancer is improving, possibly because of early detection—although the evidence for this is still unclear.

The risk factors

Researchers estimate that as many as 80 percent of all cancers may be related to things we eat, drinkand inhale, as well as to other elements in the environment and workplace. Doctors still can’t explain why one person develops cancer and another doesn’t. But most experts now believe that many people who get cancer have had repeated, long-term contact with cancer-causing agents, called carcinogens. In addition to lifestyle and environmental factors, the body’s hormones, immune system and genetic attributes play a role in causing cancer.

Understanding the risk factors behind cancer is complicated by the fact that cancer is not a single disease, but a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. Of the more than 100 types of cancer that have been identified, some, like lung cancer and certain types of skin cancer, are clearly linked to controllable factors (respectively, smoking and sun exposure).

Taking care of yourself

By choosing a lifestyle that avoids these risks, men can help protect themselves. Tobacco use, for example, causes more cancer here and in the rest of the world than does anything else. If all tobacco users in the United States suddenly quit and no new smokers were recruited, the total number of deaths from all cancers would eventually drop by at least a third. Lung cancer would become rare, rather than the major killer of both American men and women that it now is.

For other cancers, the risk factors—and therefore the preventive measures—haven’t been as well established. But in many cases, detecting cancer in its early stages and treating it before it spreads can greatly increase the chances for survival. Significant advances have been made in techniques for early detection. However, questions have been raised about both the effectiveness and cost of these techniques.

Cancer Deaths and Gender

Statistics show that in the United States, those in one gender are more likely to develop cancer—and to die from the disease as well.