As cliche as it sounds, in general, men are not as proactive about their overall health as they should be. This issue was never more apparent when, in March of 2011, I lost my own father to lung cancer, among other related complications.
He spoke ill of doctors and wasn’t faithful about yearly check-ups. I often wonder, had he sought out advice from a professional earlier — and avoided vices like cigarettes and alcohol — if he’d still be here today.
The statistics are slightly overwhelming: More than half of all premature deaths among men are preventable, according to this infographic from Georgetown University: http://online.nursing.georgetown.edu/spotlight-on-mens-health/. Seven million men in the U.S. have not seen a physician in more than 10 years. Two-thirds would not seek help if they were experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, two early warning signs of a heart attack.
A few additional stats:
— 1/6 of men will get prostate cancer.
— 50% of men will develop cancer in their lifetime.
— Testicular cancer is most common in men ages 15-35. It is 100% curable when caught and treated early.
If there is a silver lining in this situation, it’s that it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. June is Men’s Health Month, and a perfect reason to reach out to the men (and boys) in your life and remind them that you care about their overall well-being — and that they should, too.
The infographic, which is meant for informational purposes and should not replace the advice of a health care professional, suggests tests that all men should be getting and how often in order to remain proactive about their health.
Increasing awareness of preventable health problems and encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys is an important topic year-round. But this information reminds us that by raising awareness, advancing health education and recognizing culturally influenced behaviors, each of us can help improve men's health. Even if it’s not an easy conversation to have with a loved one, it’s an important one, and may help prevent challenges and larger issues down the road.
Erica Moss is the community manager for Nursing@Georgetown: http://online.nursing.georgetown.edu