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What You Don't Know Can Kill You: Seven Things Young Men Should Do Now to Protect against Cancer

David D'Spain, D.O.

Publication: Weatherford NOW Magazine, Weatherford

Men in their 20s and 30s might feel invincible, but lack of knowledge and lifestyle choices in their young adult years could greatly increase their chances of developing cancer. The reluctance of many men to visit a doctor prevents their best chances for early cancer detection and effective treatment. More than 25 percent of men have not visited a doctor within the past year, and a similar percentage does not have a regular place of health care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following cancers can either occur in young adult men or are caused by harmful habits that typically begin in the late teens and early 20s: 

HPV-related Cancer 

According to a recent study published in the leading medical journal The Lancet, half of all American men ages 18 to 70 now have the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes warts, some forms of head and neck cancer, penile cancer and anal cancer. In addition to abstinence and safe sex, HPV vaccines are a very effective way to prevent infection. 

Testicular Cancer 

Early treatment is the key to overcoming testicular cancer, which is the most common cancer found in men ages 15 to 34. Testicular cancer rates are now twice as high for white American men as they were 40 years ago. Self-examinations and consultations with physicians are the best ways to ensure early detection. 

Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths in Texas. According to the American Lung Association, tobacco smoke is the leading cause of lung cancer cases even though the effects of the disease might not show up for years. 

Colon Cancer 

A high-fat diet, obesity, diabetes and family history of the disease raise the likelihood of developing colon cancer, which is the second-leading cancer killer of men and is among the most difficult to detect, because it lacks symptoms in early stages. Men may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer through a regular exercise schedule and a healthy diet.  

Seven Things Young Adult Men Should Do Now to Prevent Cancer: 

1) Exercise regularly. 

2) Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while limiting intake of red meat or high-fat foods. 

3) Avoid tobacco smoke and using any form of tobacco. 

4) Avoid heavy consumption of alcohol. Men should either abstain from alcohol or limit alcohol use to the equivalent of no more than two beers a day. 

5) Avoid unsafe sexual practices. 

6) Be aware of changes or unusual symptoms that could point to a problem.

7) Identify a preferred doctor and make appointments for regular physical examinations and regular screenings. 

8) Regular screenings and a healthy lifestyle are essential to help avoid debilitating cancer. 

Dr. David D’Spain is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology Weatherford, 911 Foster Lane, Weatherford, Texas 

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