Check before you flush, Dr. Popper says. Changes in bowel movements can be a sign of colon cancer. “Narrowing of the stool and rectal bleeding warrant a visit to your doctor,” he says. Don’t panic. “Bleeding can certainly be caused by hemorrhoids or an anal fissure, but it’s important to get it checked out.” Diarrhea or constipation that lasts for more than a few days and the feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by having one are also potential warning signs of colon cancer. Youth is no protection, by the way: Colon cancer is on the rise in younger people. This is why new colon cancer screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society advise that adults at average risk get screened starting at age 45 instead of 50.
Men are more likely to get skin cancer—including potentially fatal melanoma—because they are less likely to use sunscreen and they may be more likely to ignore (or not notice) a changing mole, says John G. Zampella, MD, a dermatologist at the Tisch Center for Men’s Health. Fair-skinned men are at particularly high risk, he notes, saying that “men are twice as likely to die from melanoma as women.” His advice? Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, check your skin regularly, and make sure to see your dermatologist once a year for a clinical skin exam. Know your ABCDEs, he says:
• A is for Asymmetry—melanomas will be irregularly shaped, not round
• B is for Border—melanomas tend to have ragged edges
• C is for Color—melanomas are multicolored
• D is for Diameter—a melanoma is typically a ¼ inch or larger
• E is for Evolving—melanomas change their look over time.
Any of these signs warrants a visit with your dermatologist.
If you are sleeping too much, too little, or having trouble falling or staying asleep, tell your doctor. “Sleep problems and disorders are a really important signal that something is wrong,” says Steven Lamm, MD, an internist and medical director of the Tisch Center for Men’s Health. This could be a sign of depression or obstructive sleep apnea—a condition marked by loud snoring, gasping, and choking during sleep; it can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. Your doctor can effectively treat both depression and sleep apnea. Check out these other sleep disorders everyone should know about.