Alright fellas, the Swedish Cancer Institute knows that your mustache in Movember has freed up lots of extra time for you, formerly dedicated to cold-heartedly shaving it away. May we suggest a way to spend this new found time? You could stare longingly into your own mustache in the mirror, but we don’t recommend it. Instead, how about considering the many ways that you can reduce your risk for cancer or detect it early when it’s most treatable?
Let’s start with colorectal cancer. 2,710 new cases of colorectal cancer are projected this year in Washington alone*. But it doesn’t have to be so high next year. There are many tests to detect this cancer early, and even one that can lead to removal of pre-cancerous polyps, helping you to potentially avoid getting cancer at all. If you are between the ages of 50-75 and at average risk, you should get a colonoscopy (the preferred method) once every 10 years. Alternatively, a stool-based test once every year, or a flexible sigmoidoscopy or CT colonography once every 5 years are acceptable methods for screening. If you don’t know your relative risk, or are over the age of 75, please consult your doctor for a more personalized recommendation.
Mouth and Throat Cancer
Here is a cancer close to your mustache’s heart—mouth and throat (a.k.a. oral and pharyngeal) cancer. It’s certainly no laughing matter, as Washington has a higher incidence rate than the average for the nation. We recommend that each year at your dentist’s office, you get an oral exam with oral and neck palpation. Also, HPV-related mouth and throat cancers are on the rise, but there is a vaccination to prevent many of them, which was expanded in October by the FDA to be available for individuals aged 27-45**. The vaccine is only effective prior to becoming infected with HPV though, so please make sure that the young boys and girls in your lives are vaccinated, ideally at ages 11 or 12. We can prevent approximately 31,200* cancer cases every year through vaccination!
If you currently smoke, the Most Valuable Mustache award for the best way to reduce your cancer risk is to quit. You can find more information here about quitting, or call the Washington State Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. There are many programs to help you quit, but you may already be at high risk for lung cancer, and should consider low-dose CT screening. You are eligible for lung cancer screening if you meet the following criteria:
- Between the ages of 55 and 77, AND
- Currently smoke or have quit smoking in the last 15 years, AND
- Have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years OR two packs per day for 15 years
Prostate cancer has been in the news a lot lately, and though it’s the most common cancer among men in Washington*, it’s very treatable when caught early. If you are 55 or older, and have a family history of prostate cancer, and/or are of African-American heritage, you may be at increased risk and should discuss the benefits of screening with your doctor.
For liver cancer, you may be at increased risk if you have any form of cirrhosis or if you have hepatitis B or C, and therefore it may be appropriate to undergo ultrasound screening every six months. There is a vaccine to help prevent the hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C now has highly effective treatments. You can also help reduce your liver cancer risk by limiting alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.
Learn more about screenings at the Swedish Cancer Institute website »
Find a doctor at Swedish Primary Care »
Learn about genetic testing and the impact of family history on cancer risk »
Learn about how the Movember Foundation is changing the face of men’s health »