Men’s Health week is in June

Men’s Health Week falls in June. At the Mulberry Centre men’s health is very important to us and we hope that you will find the following article informative. Our Men’s health group is restarting at the end of June, a link with more information can be found at the bottom of the article.

Below is a list of the most common types of cancer affecting men, the general symptoms to look out for, what you can do to minimise the risk and how we can help.

Common cancers in men

The three most common types of cancer that affect men, as taken from the Office for National Statistics’ Cancer Registration Statistics 2017, are:

  • Prostate cancer

  • Lung cancer

  • Bowel Cancer

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer has long been the most common form of cancer in men but has recently overtaken breast cancer as the most common form of cancer in either sex, which is startling as 50% of the population (women) cannot get it.

Every year over 41,200 men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, which is twice as many as the next most common type and an estimated 1 in 9 men will develop the condition. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and Afro-Caribbean men are more at risk.

The following are common symptoms, but some men will experience no symptoms at all. For this reason, screening is advised for all men aged over 50 and they are entitled to have a PSA test, which can take place at your GP surgery.  Having a PSA test can be very reassuring if the results are normal and, importantly, can help find some cancers at an early stage. For people without any symptoms it is only through this routine screening that they can be diagnosed and treated.

What will the GP do?  They will conduct a PSA test. This is a blood test that measures the total amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It is normal for all men to have a small amount of PSA in their blood, but a raised PSA level may show that you have a problem with your prostate, and possibly prostate cancer.

  • Difficulty or delay in passing urine,

  • A weaker or slower stream of urine,

  • Urgently needing to pass urine,

  • Passing urine more frequently than usual, especially at night,

  • A feeling that the bladder is not completely empty,

  • Pain in the region of the prostate,

  • Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, or pain during ejaculation,

  • Blood in the urine, or

  • Pain in the back, hips and/or shoulders as well as any of the other symptoms listed at the end of this article.

Lung cancer

We all know about the dangers of smoking and that it is the main cause of lung cancer. Lung cancer incidence rates in men peaked in the late 1970s and since then have decreased by around 48%. But it is still the second most common cancer in men after prostate cancer, with around 21,900 cases diagnosed in the UK each year.  And we all know that you don’t have to have been a smoker to get lung cancer, which is why it’s all the more important to know what symptoms to look out for.

The following are common symptoms of lung cancer and if you have any two of them, or have had any one of them for longer than a month, you should speak to your GP:

  • Continued coughing for a period of three weeks or longer, or a change in a long-standing cough,

  • A chest infection that doesn’t get better,

  • Increased breathlessness and wheezing,

  • Coughing up blood in your phlegm,

  • A hoarse voice,

  • A dull ache or sharp pain when you cough or take a deep breath,

  • Loss of appetite or loss of weight,

  • Difficulty swallowing, or

  • Excessive fatigue or lethargy.

Bowel cancer

The third most common sort of cancer in men is bowel cancer. This cancer is more common in older people, with more than 80% of bowel cancers diagnosed in people over 60. The bowel includes the colon and the rectum, so these terms are somewhat inter-changeable. Over 20,000 men receive a new diagnosis of bowel/colo-rectal cancer in the UK each year.

Most people who get bowel cancer don’t have a family history of it and having one relative who developed bowel cancer at an older age doesn’t significantly affect your risk. However, having several close family members (parents, brothers, sisters) develop it, or if a close family member got bowel cancer before the age of 50, this may mean you have a higher risk.

If you took 100 people with bowel cancer, then only 5-10% of those people have developed bowel cancer because of a faulty gene. The rest were probably caused by a low fibre diet; some by a lack of exercise; some by excessive consumption of alcohol (more than 4 units a day) and some are caused by being overweight.

Common symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • Dark or bright red blood in your stool,

  • A change in your normal bowel habits, such as diarrhoea or constipation, for no obvious reason that lasts for longer than 6 weeks,

  • Unexplained weight loss,

  • Pain in your abdomen or back passage,

  • General discomfort in your abdomen, such as gas, bloating, or cramps,

  • A feeling of not having emptied your bowel properly after a bowel motion, or

  • Excessive fatigue or lethargy.

A form of cancer more common in younger men is testicular cancer. It is the most common type of cancer in the 15-49 age group. The following are common symptoms of testicular cancer:

  • A lump in either testicle,

  • Swelling or enlargement of the testicle,

  • An increase in firmness of the testicle,

  • Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum,

  • An unusual difference between the testicles,

  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum,

  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, or

  • A dull ache in the lower part of the abdomen, scrotum or groin.

More generally, if you notice any of the following changes in your body, particularly one that continues for more than two weeks, consult your GP:

  • Lumps, bumps and swellings,

  • Coughing and breathlessness,

  • Hoarseness,

  • Change in your bowel habits,

  • Abnormal bleeding,

  • Unexplained weight loss, or

  • Suspicious moles or skin changes.

Treatment

Cancers are usually treated by surgery, drugs, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Rates of survival vary dramatically, as do recurrence rates.

The Mulberry Centre can help, whether you have just been diagnosed or are at any stage of your cancer journey. We offer emotional support, counselling, complementary therapies and workshops on a variety of relevant topics as well as more social activities. Our men’s group will be restarting at the end of June.

For more details click here.
If you want to know more, speak to us about your diagnosis or that of someone for whom you are close to or caring for, or you would like to hear more from someone about cancer, early diagnosis and treatment you can call us on 020 8321 6300 or email us on talk@themulberrycentre.co.uk and someone will call you back.

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