In observance of Men’s Health Month in June, Atrium Health Navicent encourages men to make their health a priority this month by staying on track with annual exams and cancer screenings.
Some cancers, such as colorectal cancer, are more commonly diagnosed in men than women. Colorectal cancer, a combined term for colon cancer and rectal cancer, is the third most common cause of cancer death in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 23 for men in the U.S. The ACS estimates that in 2023 there will be 106,970 new cases of colon cancer and 46,050 new cases of rectal cancer, leading to 52,550 deaths.
The death rate from colorectal cancer is particularly high in central Georgia, at 14.8 deaths per 100,000 people, which is higher than the national average of 13.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Prostate cancer is also a leading cause of death for men. According to the ACS, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. The ACS estimates that in 2023, there will be about 288,300 new cases of prostate cancer resulting in about 34,700 deaths.
The good news is that many cancers, such as colorectal cancer, can be detected early through screenings. The first step is to schedule an annual exam with your primary care physician.
“It’s easy to get busy juggling family, work and other parts of life and put your health on the back burner. Men’s Health Month is a great time to prioritize your health by scheduling a visit with your doctor and following up on any prescribed screenings,” said Dr. David Armstrong, an Atrium Health Navicent colorectal surgeon. “If you do have cancer, the earlier we can catch it, the easier it is to treat and you’re more likely to have a favorable outcome.”
At your annual exam, it’s important to have your blood tested and your vital signs checked. A physical gives you an open forum to discuss any symptoms you might have, such as chest pain, decreased tolerance for exercise, breathing issues, sleeping issues or any other concerns.
A health area that sometimes goes ignored by men is anxiety and depression. Men are just as likely to struggle with these conditions and 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide, despite being reported less often. Always let your doctor know if you’re experiencing mood swings, high stress levels, a change in appetite, sleep habits or lack of hygiene.
An annual exam is a good opportunity to discuss your family medical history with your doctor. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, prostate cancer or colon cancer, you’ll want to make this clear to your physician as this history can affect when you get screened for these diseases.
Other key things for men to consider to get back on track include:
Know your numbers. Knowing your numbers for blood pressure, BMI, triglycerides and cholesterol, just to name a few, can offer valuable insight into the current state of your health. If it’s been a while since you’ve had these tests, reach out to your doctor to get started.
Weed out bad habits. Use this month as a starting point for quitting smoking and ending excessive alcohol use, recreational drug use and a sedentary lifestyle.
Commit to weekly exercise. Shoot for at 30 minutes per day, adding up to 150 minutes per week. If you’re new to exercise, talk with your doctor about activities that may be appropriate for you.
Follow through by scheduling and completing recommended screenings. Keep your momentum going after your annual exam and schedule any prescribed screenings and tests. Your doctor may recommend one or more, depending on your age and risk factors.
Common tests for men include:
Colonoscopy: For individuals of average risk for colorectal cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 45 and continuing until age 75. However, you may need to start getting tested before age 45, or more often than other people, if you have inflammatory bowel disease, a family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
Screening for colorectal cancer can be accomplished with a colonoscopy at Atrium Health Navicent Surgery Macon. During this endoscopic procedure, a scope is used to examine your colon from end to end, looking for any signs of growths or polyps. Polyps can be removed during this procedure to prevent the development of colon cancer.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test: The ACS recommends that men over 45 talk to their doctors about getting a baseline Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, and men ages 55-69 should consider getting screened annually, especially if they have a family history of prostate cancer. A PSA test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance made by the prostate. The levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men who have prostate cancer.
If the PSA test is abnormal, your doctor may recommend a biopsy to find out if you have prostate cancer.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer and surgery is recommended, Atrium Health Navicent offers robotic prostatectomy with the da Vinci Xi surgery. This robotic procedure expands surgeons’ capabilities to perform minimally invasive surgery, allowing for faster recovery as opposed to open or laparoscopic removal.
If you’re diagnosed with cancer, physicians at the Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center are available to provide multidisciplinary, integrated and comprehensive care ranging from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and survivorship. Atrium Health Navicent holds accreditation from the National Accreditation Program for Rectal Cancer (NAPRC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons, and provides patients with peace of mind that they are receiving the best possible care. The cancer center was the first in Georgia to receive NAPRC accreditation.
For more information about Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, call 478-633-3000. To find a doctor, visit www.NavicentHealth.org and click “Find A Doctor.”