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Get Healthy Carson City: Men’s health means getting in touch with yourself

By Steven Fine Nevada Cancer Coalition

Gentlemen, let’s have a talk. Ladies, you can listen in too since we’re all in this together, really.

November is National Healthy Skin Month. This awareness effort stresses how to check your skin periodically to detect signs of skin cancer among other things. But let’s go a little deeper, shall we?

Winter is an especially good time to check yourself carefully for spots. We’re talking about unusual shapes or colors that seem to have appeared out of nowhere or have begun to change. Your moles are on the list of irregularities that tend to pop up. Most folks have several moles all over their body, so this is where you might want to invite a friend to check your backside for the hard to see spots. People with darker complexions aren’t exempt from skin cancer. Although potential issues are not often noticeable on darker skin, people of color tend to die more often from skin cancer.

OK, we’ve got the easy one out of the way; let’s move on down the list. What do you know about prostate cancer? Let’s clear a common gaffe right away; your prostate is the ping-pong ball-sized squishy gland inside the male reproductive system between the bladder and the penis that is necessary for reproduction. Prostrate is the term for lying face down on the floor. Which is what can happen to you if you don’t self-check for cancer regularly.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean it’s a disease that only affects old men. Men who are African American, and men who have a family history (a brother or father with prostate cancer), are more than twice as likely to get prostate cancer.

Early detection is key. The difference between early detection and late detection can be life and death. This is as simple as a routine blood test starting at the age of 50 to determine the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood. This is the main method of testing for prostate cancer and you would be smart to talk to your doctor about whether it is right for you.

If you’re African American or have a brother or father with prostate cancer in their history, start that conversation when you are 45. While prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems, some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread.

Rounding the corner, so to speak, is the last topic for discussion, testicular cancer. The most common testicular cancer symptom is a lump or a swelling in your testicle. Lumps can be as small as a pea and swelling can feel like an irregular thickening on your testicle. Symptoms are often painless with little discomfort.

Time for a self-check. Did you know testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men ages 15-34? But if caught early, it’s beatable. Most cases of testicular cancer can be found at an early stage. Doing your own testicular self-exam is one of the most important steps to prevent this cancer.

There are several online resources to instruct you on the process, but we recommend hopping online to view a terrific website to help you learn how to self-check, and get a pretty good laugh at the same time. Visit http://www.NadAndTad.com for a lighthearted and extremely helpful set of videos to perfect the art of the self-exam.           

You’ll not only get the hang of it right away; you’ll probably end up sharing one of these videos with your friends like we did. We’ll post a link to the website on the Nevada Cancer Coalition Facebook page and our website http://www.NevadaCancerCoalition.org as well.

Here’s the deal, men. Don’t let fear or busyness prevent you from getting checked out – or checking yourself out. You’re never too busy to take care of your skin, to check your testes every few months, and to talk to your doctor about PSA screening. The sooner cancer is diagnosed and treated, the less likely it is to spread to other parts of your body.

If you have questions about screening for any cancer, the Nevada Cancer Coalition is your one-stop shop. Learn how cancer affects our state, facts about male-specific cancers, and find resources near you at http://www.NevadaCancerCoalition.org.