Doctor encourages men to prevent cancer, heart disease

LEWISTOWN — According the Centers of Disease Control, the leading causes of death in men are cancer and heart disease. With just under two weeks left in Men’s Health Awareness Month, Doctor Benjamin Scallon, with Geisinger-Lewistown Clinic, wants men to be aware of the causes and prevention methods for these and other health issues.

“Men’s health issues are more varied than people may think,” Scallon said.

The most common cancers found in men are skin, prostate, lung and colorectal, which Scallon said are all preventable.

“It is possible to detect them in their early stages,” he said.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is wearing long sleeves or sunscreen daily, especially during the summer months, Scallon said. To prevent lung cancer, men who smoke should try to quit, even if it means using a prescription medication.

For prostate and colon cancers, screenings are the best methods for prevention, said Scallon.

“Prostate cancer is generally a slow developing disease and (the) majority of men with low-grade prostate cancer can live for many years without experiencing symptoms (or) without it spreading (and) becoming potentially fatal,” Scallon said. “High-grade prostate cancer generally spreads quickly and can be fatal.”

Men should also have their skin checked during an annual physical and get chest computed tomographies to screen for lung cancer, especially if they are at high risk for either cancer.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 321,000 men in 2013,” Scallon said. “That’s one in every four male deaths. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. Between 70 and 89 percent of sudden cardiac events occur in men.”

In addition to cancer and heart disease, Scallon said depression is another serious medical condition with which men struggle daily.

“Depression can be difficult for men, who seek out treatment for mood disorders far less commonly than women,” Scallon said. “The social norm (is) men must be ‘stoic and strong’ (and) men are at higher risk of suicide completion. Depression is a serious and common condition which requires help and support in recovery.”

Scallon said problems with erectile dysfunction can be suggestive of underlying, vascular disease and that treatments for contributing causes, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity are “the cornerstone of prevention.”

Men living a healthy lifestyle can keep their blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels normal and lower their risks for heart disease and heart attacks.

“A healthy lifestyle includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding all forms of tobacco, limiting alcohol use and getting 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. More exercise is encouraged and still beneficial.”