Busy lives, work schedules, social events and often a laissez-faire attitude can lead to people forgoing preventative healthcare initiatives such as regular doctor’s appointments and health screening events.
It turns out that men are more at risk of skipping these important appointments than their female counterparts.
Dr. Darley Solomon of CTMH Doctors Hospital estimates that women are 33 percent more likely to visit the doctor. This is a cause for concern as men miss out on screening opportunities and medical advice until there is an obvious problem.
“A visit to the doctor may cost, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he says. “Your health is priceless and worth the investment.”
As well as being more likely to attend regular doctor’s visits, women generally begin visits earlier than their male counterparts, meaning issues are caught earlier on. Men may therefore not be aware of issues such as cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels until later in life.
“Men die at higher rates for the top 10 causes of death – heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, accidents, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease and chronic liver disease/cirrhosis,” says Dr. Solomon, who believes part of the reason for this is this late intervention.
In general, men should immediately seek advice from a physician if they experience the following:
- chronic cough or coughing up blood
- having pain or seeing blood when urinating
- have abdominal pain
- a change in bowel habits
- passing blood with bowel movements
However, “many health issues may not present with symptoms until there are serious problems,” says Dr. Solomon. “That is why it is important to have the guidance of a physician.”
Regular screenings will increase the chance of catching cancers and other health issues when they are at an easily treatable level, or identifying risk factors and early warning signs.
“I would recommend that most consider getting a general/family practice doctor that they feel comfortable talking to and establishing a general health baseline at about age 30, perhaps earlier if there is a history of family health problems,” advises Dr. Solomon.
When it comes to cancers specifically, the leading male cancers are lung cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Being aware of the risk factors for these, as well as taking proactive measures to stay on top of your health, is also imperative.
“Ninety percent of lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoking, while prostate cancer risk is increased by advancing age, a high fat diet, a first degree relative i.e. father, son, brother with prostate cancer and Afro-Caribbean heritage,” explains Dr. Solomon.
“Factors that increase risk for colon cancer include obesity/inactivity/diabetes, high fat/ low fiber diets, family history of colon cancer/polyps, smoking and heavy alcohol usage of more than two drinks per day,” he says.
Cayman is lucky to have organizations working hard to increase public awareness about male cancers and other health issues.
“The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one and these organizations like Movember, the Lions Club, the Cancer Society and the Breast Cancer Foundation do a great job of educating the community and stimulating conversation around these health issues,” says Dr. Solomon, who regularly speaks at cancer events linked to these organizations.