Monday Medical: November is for men’s health | SteamboatToday.com

Monday Medical: November is for men’s health

Susan Cunningham For Steamboat Today

This November, UCHealth is encouraging men to take time to take care of their health through their MANtenance program.

A webstie provides information on fostering a healthy lifestyle and checking off appropriate medical screenings. Men who take a pledge to make their health a priority will be entered to win signed gear from Broncos, Nuggets and Avalanche teams.

Though it may be easy for men to take time to work on a car or line up a fantasy football team, setting aside time for health — whether that's going to see the doctor or exercising regularly — can be harder.

"Men are more likely than women to delay treatment or evaluation by a doctor if there's some concern," said Dr. Clay Pendleton, urologic surgeon in Steamboat Springs. "Men may have more of the attitude of, 'I can take care of it, I can deal with it.'"

But for some diseases, such as prostate and testicular cancers, delaying a diagnosis can have a serious affect. Below, Pendleton outlines key ways men can take care of their health this November.

• Stay ahead of testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men age 15 to 35. Almost 9,000 American men are diagnosed with it each year.

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Starting in adolescence, men should do self-checks every month for any new lumps or masses. If a mass is found, see a doctor quickly. Keep in mind that most cases of testicular cancer don't cause any symptoms.

"Testicular cancer is most often diagnosed with a painless lump," Pendleton said. "In almost every diagnosis, the cancer is not causing any issues at that point."

• Consider screening for prostate cancer. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men: one in seven American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Prostate cancer is also second in cancer-related deaths in men, behind lung cancer.

The American Urological Association recommends men at average risk for prostate cancer who are age 55 to 69 talk with their doctors about being screened. Men with a family history of the disease or other risk factors should talk with their physicians about getting screened earlier.

• Treat cancers quickly. The good news with testicular and prostate cancers is that in most cases, both cancers can be successfully treated if they're discovered early.

"Both of these cancers are usually very treatable if caught at an early stage, similar to breast cancer," Pendleton said.

There is a wide variety of treatments for both cancers, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, cryotherapy and hormonal therapy.

• Know your family history. One critical indicator for your risk of developing a range of diseases is whether a relative has experienced it. But many men don't find out they had a close relative with a specific disease until after they've been diagnosed themselves.

"Family history is a risk factor for essentially every cancer across the board," Pendleton said.

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle. You've heard it before, but practicing healthy habits can help improve your health across the board. That means eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and reducing stress.

• See the doctor. Prioritize regular checks with your primary care physician, as he or she is the best resource for understanding whether you'd benefit from various screenings, from cholesterol checks and colonoscopies, to blood sugar and vision tests. And don't get stressed out if a visit to the urologist is recommended.

"A lot of men are timid when they come to see a urologist," Pendleton said. "But it's a routine part of maintaining your health."

Before November comes to a close, take the time to focus on your health. Though setting up another doctor's appointment may feel inconvenient, the benefit of knowing you've invested in yourself pays dividends.

For more information on UCHealth's MANtenance program, go to uchealth.org/man.

Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.

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