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Don’t avoid the doc: Survey says men are behind on screenings and not taking charge of their health

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Data from the Prevent Cancer Foundation reveal over 20% of men don’t schedule their own doctor’s appointments.

Men’s Health Month Infographic

The Prevent Cancer Foundation 2024 Early Detection Survey says men are behind on screenings and not taking charge of their health.
The Prevent Cancer Foundation 2024 Early Detection Survey says men are behind on screenings and not taking charge of their health.

Alexandria, Va., June 05, 2024 – June is Men’s Health Month, a time when we remind men to take charge of their health. If recent findings from the Prevent Cancer Foundation® are any indication, it’s a badly needed message: Over 20% of men aren’t even scheduling their own doctor’s appointments. That’s according to the Foundation’s annual Early Detection Survey, where nearly 1 in 5 men self-reported that a relative or partner usually schedules their health care appointments.1

The significance of this is profound. Men in the U.S. are currently missing out on opportunities to prevent cancer or detect it early, with 65% reporting they are behind on at least one routine cancer screening. The prevalence of certain cancers among men—including colorectal, skin (melanoma), oral and prostate cancers, all of which have routine screenings available—illustrates the importance of empowering men to take charge of their health. There is an overall gaping need for men to take ownership of their health journeys and prioritize their well-being, which can start with something as fundamental as scheduling their own appointments.

“By fostering a culture of self-care and encouraging men to prioritize routine cancer screenings, we can reduce health disparities and achieve better outcomes,” said Jody Hoyos, CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. “These findings give us even more motivation to spread our resources far and wide so we can empower everyone to take proactive steps to check their health.”

Knowing your screening options is an important place to start. Fifty-one percent of men 45 or older said that knowing about at-home colorectal cancer screening options makes them much more likely to get their colorectal cancer screening. Fortunately, several at-home options are available. Talk to your health care provider about your options so you can get the screening that is right for you.

Additionally, 36% of men who are not up to date on their routine cancer screenings say they would be more likely to prioritize their screening if there were a faster test—an important stat for companies to consider when developing new and innovative screening tests.

Those assigned male at birth who are of average risk should follow these screening guidelines:

Colorectal: Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45 if you are of average risk. If you’re at increased risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and/or be screened more often. There are several options available for colorectal cancer screening, some of which can be done at home. Discover your options and talk with your health care provider about which screening is right for you.

Lung: If you smoke cigarettes heavily or used to smoke heavily, get screened for lung cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends screening for people who currently smoke or used to smoke (regardless of when they quit) who are ages 50-80 and have 20 pack-year histories of smoking. Ask your health care provider about routine lung cancer screening.

Oral: Oral cancer is more common in men than women. Your dentist may be able to detect some oral precancers and cancers early. Visit your dentist every six months and ask for an oral cancer exam.

Prostate: If you have a prostate gland and you are at average risk, start talking to your health care provider at age 50 about the pros and cons, uncertainties and risks of prostate cancer screening. You may need to have that talk earlier if:

  • You are Black or if you have a close relative (parent, sibling or child) who had prostate cancer before age 65. If so, start talking to your health care provider about prostate cancer when you are 45.
  • More than one close relative had prostate cancer before 65. If so, start that talk when you turn 40.

Skin: Skin checks for skin cancer should happen annually, and since men are more likely than women to develop melanoma by age 50, it’s also important to do monthly self-exams to check for possible signs of melanoma. If you notice any changes to moles or areas that look concerning, bring it to the attention of a health care provider.

Testicular: If you have testicles, ask your health care provider to examine them during your routine physical and learn about self-exams beginning in your 20s. Performing a self-exam can help you get to know what is normal for you. If you notice a change, see your health care provider right away. While not a common cancer diagnosis, testicular cancer is most commonly seen in those who are young, with incidence rates highest among ages 20-34. You should continue to have your testicles checked for as long as your health care provider recommends it.

It is crucial to advocate for your health and talk to your health care provider about the routine cancer screenings you need—not just during Men’s Health Month, but year-round. Early Detection = Better Outcomes and gives you the best shot at health. Check out the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s resources for patients, such as info on the screenings you need at every age, listings for free and low-cost cancer screenings and a tool to create your own personalized screening plan.

Information and resources on all cancer types studied in the 2024 Early Detection Survey—including information on relevant screenings—can be found at preventcancer.org/betteroutcomes.

1 The cancer screenings studied in this survey were for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, oral cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and testicular cancer.