Are you current with your preventive screenings? June is Men’s Health Month, which encourages men and their families to get regular checkups and increase awareness of health risks for their age, ethnicity and family health history.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 13 percent of men older than 18 are in fair or poor health. Less than one-third of adult men meet federal standards for muscle-strengthening activity. About 40 percent of adult men are obese and almost 52 percent have hypertension.
Men’s Health Week is June 12-18
Men’s Health Week is June 12-18. This initiative reminds men to maintain healthy bodies by eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise and getting screened to prevent disease. One of the most important preventive screenings is for colorectal cancer, including colonoscopy, which can detect and prevent colon cancer. Men should prioritize a colon cancer screening like they do other preventive screenings such as a prostate exam.
How common is colon cancer in men?
The risk of a male developing colon cancer is 1 in 23, which is slightly higher than a female (1 in 26). It is estimated there will be more than 106,000 new cases of colon cancer in 2023, as well as 46,000 cases of rectal cancer.
Because more people are getting screened, colon cancer incidence has been decreasing by about 1 percent every year. However, colon cancer rates have been increasing by 1 to 2 percent in adults younger than 50.
Warning signs of colon cancer and risk factors
Although colon cancer risk increases with age, you are never too young to develop the disease. Colon cancer is highly treatable when it is detected in the early stages. Because anyone can develop colon cancer, it is important to know the symptoms and warning signs of colon cancer.
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation)
- Blood in the stool
If you experience any of these warning signs, you should contact your doctor right away.
Colonoscopy: gold standard of colon screenings
Although there are many types of colon cancer screenings, colonoscopy is the most comprehensive test. Colonoscopy is the only screening that allows a doctor to inspect the entire colon for polyps, which can become cancerous. Your doctor can remove any suspicious polyps during your exam and have them analyzed.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women who are at average risk for colon cancer should start regular colon cancer screenings beginning at age 45. Those who are in good health should continue screening until 75.
Take a step toward colon health
This month, take the steps to support your health and wellness:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables while limiting added sugar, saturated fat and sodium.
- Stop smoking or do not begin smoking.
- Stay active by getting 2.5 hours of exercise per week.
- Schedule annual health screenings.
Many cases of colon cancer are preventable with routine screenings, so check with your doctor to get advice on which tests are best for you. Encourage family members to schedule colon, prostate and breast cancer screenings for their health.