Did you realize that men have a higher death rate for most leading causes of death when it comes to cancer and heart disease? Yes, it’s true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 47.2% of all male deaths (in 2015) were either heart disease at 24.4%, or cancer at 22.8%.
That’s probably why it will be no surprise to you that the life expectancy of men is five years less than that of women.
And then there’s this startling fact: men are 50% less likely than women to take advantage of prevention visits with their provider.
What’s wrong with this picture? Especially when the alternative is so easy. Regular screenings for prostate and colon cancer and heart disease are important because all can go undetected unless they show up during testing.
Prostate cancer alone will take somewhere close to 30,000 men this year. And yet, detection can begin with a simple PSA blood test. A PSA test can be done in minutes and does not require a provider referral. At an annual physical, a provider can also check the prostate by performing a digital rectal exam.
Colon cancer detection also begins with a simple test – a colonoscopy. This procedure is a bit more invasive, but basically is done with little discomfort to the patient. During a colonoscopy, a general surgeon is able to examine the colon and rectum via a flexible tube with a tiny camera on its tip. The surgeon is able to search for polyps, cancer or other diseases. This test is recommended for all over age 50.
When it comes to heart disease, a good place to start is having regular “prevention” physicals. A provider can begin the process of testing and monitoring, or medicating, for both high blood pressure and high cholesterol. High blood pressure strains one’s heart and blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. High cholesterol can lead to hardening of the arteries which can lead to a stroke, heart attack or heart failure.
There’s all kinds of excuses men give for avoiding their own good health management. But when you consider that, according to a Pew Research Center study that men “place a great emphasis on their role as financial provider,” you’d think they’d place an equally high emphasis on being and staying healthy for those for which they provide.
It might be time for men to place a greater emphasis on their health. A good place to start is on the campus of Greene County Medical Center, where one can find a primary care provider at UnityPoint Clinic and get tested for prostate and colon cancer with services from our lab or surgery departments.
The prognosis isn’t going to change until men change their healthcare management ways.