Top 4 cancers in men

Screening for colon and rectal cancers is possible and people are advised to get screened regularly. 

Photo credit: Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Among men, prostate, colorectal, lung, and bladder cancers are the most common. 
  • Once you know the most prevalent cancers in your demographic, prioritize screening for them during your annual visits to the physician.

Cancer prevalence has risen sharply in the last few decades. Today, it is one of the deadliest diseases in the world. The best chance against cancer is early detection. But even this is not foolproof because most of the cancers do not show symptoms in the early stages. This only leaves annual screening for all cancers as the way to stay safe, which is an expensive choice.

Here is a tip: Once you know the most prevalent cancers in your demographic, prioritize screening for them during your annual visits to the physician.

Among men, these are the most common and deadliest cancers globally.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and fourth overall.  Current data indicates that one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their life. This means you or a man you know will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in your lifetime.

Prostate cancer is also one of the deadliest cancers among men, accounting for slightly over 7 percent of all cancer deaths in the world.  

This cancer does not usually show symptoms during the early stages. Since most men do not get screened regularly, the high rates of death may be attributed to late detection.

Risk factors include:

  • Age – older men are more susceptible
  • Race – prostate cancer is more common among black men
  • Family history

Treatment options for prostate cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy. If the tumour is relatively inactive, the doctor may advise for observation until it becomes aggressive.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among men but the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It kills more men than colorectal and bladder cancer, combined.

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer. Middle-aged and older men who have smoked for 15-20 years or more have the highest risk of lung cancer. Experts also warn that secondary smoke is just as bad as smoking directly.

Other air pollutants such as radon also increase the risk of lung cancer.

Symptoms include persistent coughs, coughing up blood, coarseness on your throat, and shortness of breath.

There is limited screening available for lung cancer compared to other types of cancers. But if you have experienced these symptoms consult your doctor.

Colorectal cancer

This cancer affects the rectum and colon sections of the digestive system. Combining the men and women numbers, colorectal cancer causes more cancer-related deaths than prostate cancer.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Diarrhea, constipation, and other bowel related conditions that last more than a few days
  • Sudden change in your bowel habits
  • Blood in your faeces or on your tissue (indicating bleeding of the rectum)
  • Inexplicable weight loss and exhaustion

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. The symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses such as irritable bowel movement. The doctor will test to rule these out before screening for cancer.

Unlike lung cancer, screening for colon and rectal cancers is available.

Bladder cancer

Although bladder cancer affects both men and women, it is more prevalent in men.

The disease has different stages including:

  • Non-invasive stage: Only the cells in the inner layer of the bladder are affected
  • Invasive: Cancer has spread and affects most of the bladder
  • Cancer has spread to other parts of the body

There is no screening tool for bladder cancer but watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Blood in urine
  • Urge to urinate frequently
  • Pain when urinating

Smoking is thought to increase the risk of bladder cancer. Exposure to some chemicals, some types of medication, and family history are also major predisposing factors.


For all types of cancer, early detection increases your chances of recovery after treatment. Plan to get tested regularly especially if you are vulnerable due to age, race, family history, or lifestyle.

Early detection of cancer also helps you get affordable treatment.

However, prevention is always the best option. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and unhealthy diets to keep cancer away.