General Cancer Screening For Men
This article focuses on screening for individuals with male organs such as a penis, prostate, and testes.
Cancer screening tests help to find cancer or pre-cancerous areas early. Sometimes these tests find things before you may even have symptoms. Research has shown that cancer treatments are the most successful when cancer is found early.
You should see your primary care provider (PCP) every year for a “wellness” check-up. During this visit, your provider may screen you for some cancers, will talk with you about your family cancer history, and if you have any genetic mutations that put you at a higher risk for some cancers. This will help your provider plan for when and how often you need to have cancer screenings.
During your routine dental exams, your dentist should look at your mouth and tongue for any changes. This is an oral cancer screening.
You should also be screened for prostate, testicular, colon, and skin cancers. If you are a smoker or have a history of smoking, your provider may want you to have lung cancer screening.
General Cancer Screening Recommendations
Prostate Cancer Screening
- Talk about the risks and benefits of prostate screening with your provider.
- Screening tests include prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or a digital rectal exam
- If you are at average risk, have this talk with your provider starting at age 50.
- If you have had a father or brother with prostate cancer before they were 65, you should talk about prostate cancer screening with your provider at age 45.
- If you have a strong family history of prostate cancer, talk with your provider about your risk of familial prostate cancer and genetic testing.
- All black individuals with a prostate should talk with their provider about screening at age 45.
- Your provider will make a plan for future screenings based on the results of your initial screening and your family history.
Testicular Cancer Screening
- Most testicular cancers happen between the ages of 15 and 45.
- Get familiar with the look and feel of your testes. Report any changes, swelling lumps, bumps, and abnormal discharge to your provider.
- Need help with a self-testicular exam? Check out this guide (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/detection.html)
Colon and Rectal Cancer Screening
- There are many different types of screening tests used. Talk to your provider about what screening options you have.
- Individuals at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin screening at the age of 45.
- Average risk means:
- You have no personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
- You don’t have a family history of colon cancer.
- You don’t have a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- You don’t have or suspect any family hereditary colorectal syndromes like FAP or HPNCC.
- You haven’t had radiation to the belly or pelvis for another cancer.
- These screenings should continue until the age of 75. After 75, you can talk with your provider about if you should continue to be screened.
- Those over the age of 85 at average risk don’t need to have further screenings.
- You have a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
- You have a personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
- You have a family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps.
- You have an inherited syndrome like FAP or HPNCC.
- You have radiation to your belly or pelvis for another cancer.
Lung Cancer Screening
Most people do not need lung cancer screening. There are some people who are screened for lung cancer because they are at a higher risk because of their smoking history. Screening is done with a yearly low-dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest if you are at high risk.
You may be eligible for lung cancer screening if:
- You are 50 to 80 years of age and in fairly good health.
- You smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years.
- You have at least a 20-pack-year smoking history.
- A pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked each day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked.
- Someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years has a 20-pack-year smoking history. So does someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 10 years.
- You have had smoking cessation (quitting) counseling if you are smoking.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are at a higher risk of lung cancer to make a screening plan.
Skin Cancer Risk
Skin cancer is very common and rates of skin cancer continue to rise. You can find skin cancer early by:
- Knowing your skin and your body. Look at birthmarks, moles, and freckles. If a mole has changed in size, shape, or color, is bleeding or itches, or is scaly, contact your healthcare provider to look at the area.
- The American Academy of Dermatology has a helpful guide to performing a skin exam.
You can lower your risk of cancer. Talk with your provider and make a plan for your cancer screenings.
Shaukat, A., Kahi, C. J., Burke, C. A., Rabeneck, L., Sauer, B. G., & Rex, D. K. (2021). ACG clinical guidelines: colorectal cancer screening 2021. Official journal of the American College of Gastroenterology| ACG, 116(3), 458-479.
Smith, R. A., Andrews, K. S., Brooks, D., Fedewa, S. A., Manassaram‐Baptiste, D., Saslow, D., & Wender, R. C. (2019). Cancer screening in the United States, 2019: A review of current American Cancer Society guidelines and current issues in cancer screening. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 69(3), 184-210.