PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

Cancer Tests for Men

Posted on Jun 16, 2011

According to the CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries statistics, men are more likely than women to develop cancer. In addition, men face a higher risk of dying from cancer than women.

Despite this, studies show that men are less likely than women to get routine preventive care, including cancer screening. June is national Men’s Health Month and a perfect time to raise awareness about cancer in men.

Getting the Jump on Cancer

Cancer is one disease where early detection and treatment can often make a difference in outcomes says Kourosh Yamouti, M.D., a board-certified internal medicine physician who sees patients at PAMF’s West Valley Center in San Jose. That is why the stereotypical guy “wait until you feel sick” approach to medical care is a bad idea.

A primary care doctor, such as Dr. Yamouti, can help men determine their individual cancer risk and may order certain cancer screening tests. According to Dr. Yamouti, three important cancer tests for men are:

  1. The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. In many cases of prostate cancer, the body releases additional amounts of a substance called PSA that signals to the body’s immune system that something is wrong. A low level of PSA is present in the blood all the time, but when levels of PSA start to rise, it could be a sign of prostate cancer. If a blood test shows an elevated PSA level in your body, you may need additional testing for prostate cancer.
  2. Colonoscopy. Doctors use colonoscopies to check your colon for small growths or pre-cancerous polyps that may develop into cancers. A colonoscopy involves passing an endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a small camera attached, through the colon while the patient is sedated. Both men and women with colon cancer risk factors such as having had a close relative with colon cancer, being 50 or older, or having symptoms such as abdominal pain, changing bowel habits or blood in their stool should have a colonoscopy.
  3. Chest X-ray. If you are or were a smoker, worked with asbestos or once had tuberculosis (TB), an X-ray of your chest can help doctors spot some types of developing lung disorders, including some tumors. A chest X-ray is not a screening test for cancer as it can miss many small developing tumors. However, in some cases, it can detect a problem before you may notice physical symptoms of lung cancer, such as a persistent cough, wheezing or fatigue.

To see if one or more of these tests may be appropriate for you, talk to your primary care doctor.

Dr. Kourosh Yamouti contributed to this blog post. Dr. Yamouti is a board-certified internal medicine physician who sees patients at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s West Valley Center in San Jose.

Kourosh Yamouti, M.D.