Common Cancers in Men

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on July 01, 2019
3 min read

For men, the top four cancers after prostate cancer are lung, colorectal, bladder, and melanoma, according to Houston oncologist Mamta Kalidas, MD, a medical editor for the American Cancer Society and a volunteer faculty member in hematology-oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. Here's what men need to know.

Quit smoking. It causes at least four in five lung cancer deaths. Current and former smokers: If you're 55 to 74, ask your doctor about an annual screening.

Finding lung cancer early could save your life. (Just being around cigarette smoke or someone who smokes -- even if you don't -- increases your risk.) The No. 1 cause among nonsmokers is radon, a radioactive chemical that can accumulate indoors. Inexpensive tests can alert you to dangerous levels in your home.

Improve your lifestyle. Being overweight or obese, lack of exercise, smoking, and a diet heavy on red meat, processed meats, and moderate to heavy alcohol use all raise your risk of cancers that begin in the colon and rectum.

Equally important: Get screened beginning at age 50, the CDC recommends. Early detection makes effective treatment much more likely. Review your own and your family's health history with your doctor to ID other potential red flags, like inflammatory bowel disease and polyps, benign growths that can become cancerous.

Need another reason to quit tobacco? Smoking significantly boosts your odds of bladder cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to certain industrial chemicals. Some studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help protect you.

Another potential preventive measure: Drink lots of water. "The thinking is that you will urinate out a lot of the toxins that may be in your bladder," says Kalidas. "Not just any fluids, but specifically water might be helpful."

This type of skin cancer can be deadly, but it's highly treatable in its early stages. And it often can be prevented. Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen that blocks the sun's UV rays -- and stay away from tanning salons and sunlamps. Also, scan your skin. (Ask your partner or someone else you're comfortable with to check your back.)

Do you have lots of moles? If so, have a dermatologist evaluate them regularly. Between exams, keep an eye on them. If any moles change color, size, or shape, that's a warning sign. Other things that raise your odds: fair skin, red or blond hair, and abundant freckles.

"We want men who have these risk factors to see their doctor regularly," says Kalidas.

#1: Ranking of lung cancer in men’s cancer deaths. An estimated 76,750 men will die from lung cancer in 2019.

1%: Percentage increase in deaths from colorectal cancer -- the No. 3 cancer killer for men -- in younger adults each year from 2007 to 2016.

3X: The number of times men are more likely to get bladder cancer than women this year. Nearly three times as many men will die from it.

4,740: Estimated number of men who will die from melanoma this year, nearly twice the number of women. Men's melanoma rates outpace women's starting at age 50.

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