The Three Cancer Screenings Every Man Should Have

It’s International Men’s Health Week this June 13th – 19th, 2022 – a time to bring awareness to health issues that impact men disproportionately. Genes, hormones, and anatomy increase a man’s risk for certain diseases. Fortunately, many of these illnesses are treatable when diagnosed early. The following are three types of cancer that men should get screened for by a certain age and even without any specific symptoms.

  1. Prostate cancer screening

There are two standard tests for screening for prostate cancer that health experts recommend, including:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – The PSA test analyzes a blood sample for levels of PSA, which is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. Normal PSA levels are 4.0 ng/mL and lower. In general, high levels of PSA indicate a higher prostate cancer risk. When the test shows elevated levels of PSA, your doctor may recommend another PSA test, prostate biopsy, and digital rectal exams (DREs).
  • Digital rectal examination (DRE) – A DRE is performed by gently inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus. The doctor will feel for abnormalities, such as a prostate nodule or an enlarged prostate, which will feel like a bulge behind the rectum wall.
  • Lung cancer screening

Lung cancer screening is not typically performed on men of average risk for lung cancer. However, it is recommended for men aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20-pack smoking history and currently smoke.

Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT or low-dose CT scan) – The recommended screening test for men at high risk for lung cancer is LDCT. An LDCT procedure uses a computer linked to an x-ray machine that uses low-dose radiation to take detailed images of the chest. The CT scan looks for small lesions in the lungs.

If the screening test shows that you may have lung cancer, the doctor may recommend a bronchoscopy and biopsy. A bronchoscopy will involve a bronchoscope, a thin tube with a camera at the end, which will pass through your mouth or nose, down your throat, and inside your airways, where cell samples will be removed for analysis. Biopsies can also be performed with a needle at the time of a CT scan.

  • Colorectal cancer screening

Colon and rectal cancer screening typically begin at the age of 45. The following are the different types of screenings for colorectal cancer:

  • Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy involves a flexible fiber-optic instrument inserted through the anus to look for abnormalities in the colon and rectum, such as swollen tissues or polyps.
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) – A virtual colonoscopy uses a special X-ray and low-dose computed tomography (CT).
  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) – A gFOBT looks for occult blood in the stool.
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – A FIT test uses a specific protein that attaches to hemoglobin. Similar to the gFOBT, it requires a stool sample.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) – An FSIG test examines the lower colon using a sigmoidoscope, which is inserted into the rectum.
  • Multitarget stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) – An MT-sDNA analyzes a stool sample to identify biomarkers that are associated with colorectal cancer.

In brief, screenings or preventive checkups can detect cancer or diseases before they become symptomatic. Treatments are more effective when started early. Take time to go to the doctor and get screened!

To learn more about men’s health, cancer screening, prevention, and treatment, contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology. At Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology, more than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.