AUSTIN — According to the Movember Foundation, men die an average of six years younger than women -- and for reasons that are largely preventable.
Top health concerns for men include heart disease, prostate cancer and depression. But many studies show a high percentage of men put off going to the doctor.
"[Men] may feel vulnerable when they go to the doctor's office...Men sometimes feel like their masculinity may be compromised, oftentimes by voicing some concerns about their health problems, and they often may keep that health issue to themselves and no longer seek care as a result," Dr. Charles Osterberg said.
Dr. Osterberg is Chief of Urology at Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. He said men's health needs to be discussed more openly in order to prevent men from developing issues undiagnosed, such as prostate cancer, which killed roughly 30,000 people last year.
"Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, aside from skin conditions. So, roughly 160,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, which puts us at about roughly one in nine men being diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. So, it is extremely common," Dr. Osterberg said.
But there's good news: prostate cancer can be treated if it's caught early.
"Prostate cancer is extremely slow-growing. So, if caught early, prostate cancer is very treatable. And in order to diagnose prostate cancer and effectively treat it, we have to undergo screening," Dr. Osterberg said. "And that's part of what 'Movember' is all about -- encouraging men to speak out about men's health, create awareness. And it's not just prostate cancer, it's all men's health."
Doctors like Dr. Osterberg encourage men to be open to discussing their health, to make annual doctor's visits, to stay active and to focus on eating a nutritious diet.
Dr. Osterberg also said it's important for family and friends to encourage the men in their lives to go to the doctor.
"It starts by having a good support system. So, having a spouse or a daughter or a son encourage their father-figure or their boyfriend, their husband, etc to seek out care," Dr. Osterberg said. "Only when we have a good support system do we encourage men to seek out care and undergo routine screenings."