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Cancer Risks for Men

A disease that has affected millions of Americans, and still growing in number, cancer has had a large impact on our society. After many years of thorough medical research and technological development, treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of cancer has become much more manageable over time. With access to preventative care, everyone in the country can receive screenings for the most common types of cancer. Whether you are have medical benefits through a private health insurer or a public plan such as Medicare or Medicaid, regular examinations will be performed depending on your risk level.

It is possible through early diagnosis to help minimize and control the disease in its many forms. Though it is not a pleasant topic, you will find many lifestyle choices, genetics, and demographics make a person likely to acquire some type of cancer. While you cannot control your family history of illness, your age, or background, you can make other efforts to prevent cancer from affecting you. One of which is getting coverage to stay on top of your health, in addition to not smoking, staying active, and eating healthy foods.


Risks for Men

Lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer are the top cancers affecting men in the United States. Skin cancer is the most common cancer among all Americans, two of which (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas) are highly curable, and one type (melanoma) which is more dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 300,000 men die each year from cancer in America. The most common kinds have been researched and treated heavily, and there are known methods of prevention in order to reduce your risk of getting the disease.

The following are the types of cancer occurring most often in men and how to do your part to prevent getting them within the parameters you can control. Knowing you are able to take action will set your mind at ease in the future as you age. Being healthy and active are the best ways to prevent cancer, as well as receiving routine screenings, if necessary.


Lung Cancer

Lung cancer claims the highest number of men’s lives in America, over any other type of the disease. The main cause in the majority of cases is cigarette smoking, which also causes cancers of the esophagus, larynx, throat, mouth, kidney, pancreas, stomach, bladder, and acute myleoid leukemia. The National Cancer Institute projects that 116,470 men will be diagnosed with cancer of the lung and bronchus in 2012. The majority of cases occur in individuals between ages 65 and 74, and low incidences have begun as early as between 20 and 34.


  • Smoking
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Radon gas
  • Arsenic
  • Tar
  • Soot
  • Asbestos
  • Beta carotene supplements in heavy smokers



  • Increasing exercise
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Taking medicines to treat a precancerous condition or to keep cancer from starting
  • Quitting smoking
  • Not smoking
  • Lower exposure to workplace risk factors
  • Lower exposure to radon


Prostate Cancer

The second most common cause of cancer death in men, prostate cancer usually occurs in older men. The NCI estimates that 241,740 new cases will be found and 28,170 deaths related to prostate cancer will occur in 2012. The average age for being diagnosed with prostate cancer is 67 years old, and the median age for death from the disease was 80 years old, from data gathered between 2005 – 2009. Avoiding risk factors and taking protective action gives a stronger possibility of preventing cancer. Here are some of the risks and ways to avoid getting the disease.


  • Age: prostate cancer is rare in men under 50, chances increase with older age.
  • Family history: if a relative has had prostate cancer, there is a higher-than-average risk that you will have it also.
  • Race: prostate cancer occurs more frequently in African-American men than in white men.
  • Receiving a proper amount of testosterone, as too much can lead to the development of prostate cancer
  • Vitamin E taken alone
  • A diet high in dairy and calcium may cause a small increase in risk



  • Increasing exercise
  • Eating healthy foods and less dairy/calcium
  • Folate/folic acid: proven to lower risk when used long term
  • Finasteride and dutasteride: drugs that block the enyme that changes testosterone into DHT, high levels of which may cause the development of prostate cancer. Side effects of both drugs have been rather extreme, including developing more aggressive tumors.


Colon and Rectal Cancer

Another family of cancers affecting mainly individuals age 50 and older, colon and rectal cancer can be treated and stopped with screening and early treatment. Abnormal cells usually take 10 to 15 years to develop in the colon, therefore early detection is key. Getting tested and having polyps removed before they become abnormal can control colorectal cancer. It is estimated that 73,420 new cases of this type of cancer will be diagnosed in men in 2012.


  • Age: risk increases after age 50.
  • Family history: having a parent, sibling, or child, who has had colorectal cancer or polyps doubles your risk.
  • Personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Obesity
  • Drinking 3 or more alcoholic beverages daily increases risk.
  • Cigarette smoking



  • Increasing exercise
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Taking medicines to treat a precancerous condition or to keep cancer from starting
  • Quitting smoking
  • Aspirin: taking aspirin every day for at least 5 years decreases the risk of colorectal cancer and subsequent death. Prolonged use of aspirin gives a high risk of bleeding in the intestines, stomach, or brain, however.
  • Polyp removal






1. American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts and Figures.” http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsfigures/index.

2. National Cancer Institute. “Cancer Causes and Risk Factors.” http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes.