What Are Some Common Diseases and Conditions Men Are at Risk for Today?

by Anil Keswani, MD

Prostate cancer
By the time they reach age 80, a whopping 80 percent of men will have some form of prostate cancer. This slow-growing cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in men over age 75, and the third most common among men of all ages; one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime. Risk factors include being age 50 and older, having a father, brother or son who had prostate cancer, and having certain genes. However, because many prostate cancers grow so slowly, treatment may not always be recommended; instead, the cancer is monitored over time. If treatment is recommended, options may include surgery, x-ray radiation therapy, proton therapy and chemotherapy — or a combination. Ask your doctor whether you should be screened for prostate cancer, and help reduce your risk with a healthy lifestyle.

Low testosterone
Normally, production of the male hormone testosterone peaks during early adulthood; after age 30, it gradually begins to decline by about 1 percent every year. While this gradual decline is a normal part of aging, an unusually low level of testosterone is a condition known as hypogonadism. It can cause symptoms including erectile dysfunction, a decreased sex drive and infertility, as well as depression, fatigue, insomnia, increased body fat and reduced muscle mass. Low testosterone can also cause sleep apnea and congestive heart failure to worsen. A simple blood test can determine whether a man has low testosterone and if treatment is needed. Treatments include testosterone gels, patches, injections and implanted pellets that slowly release the hormone into the body.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Also known as impotence, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection. This condition affects approximately 30 million men in the U.S.; it becomes more common with age and may range from a complete inability to achieve an erection to occasional problems. In addition to aging, the most common causes include low testosterone levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, depression, anxiety, and nerve or spinal cord disorders. In addition, lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcoholism or substance abuse, and medication side effects may play a role. In most cases, ED is highly treatable.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Anil Keswani, MD, corporate vice president of ambulatory health care and population health management.