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Men's Health: Learn what cancers affect men

MEN'S HEALTH: There are actions men can take to reduce the chances of being diagnosed with cancer.
MEN'S HEALTH: There are actions men can take to reduce the chances of being diagnosed with cancer. AlexRaths

OF THE 70,000 Australian men diagnosed each year with cancer, the most common cancers are skin, prostate, bowel and lung cancers.

Rather than ignore the fact that cancer may affect you, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk or find it early.

To start -

  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • Be active every day.
  • Slow down on the alcohol.
  • Eat moderate amounts of lean red meat and limit or avoid processed meats.
  • Enjoy eating plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Each a variety of high-fibre foods.
  • Go low with salt and fat.

It's a good health strategy to visit your GP once a year for a check-up, just like you do with your car, and go any other time you notice a change to your body which isn't normal.

SKIN

  • There are three main types - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
  • Keep an eye out for new or changing skin spots.
  • Use this check list to go top to bottom - check your head, scalp, neck and ears, sides and front of torso, your back, arms, hands, fingers and fingernails, toes, toenails and soles.
  • Ask a family member or friend to help check the back of your legs and upper body.
  • Visit your GP if a spot has changed colour, size or shape, has an irregular border, or becomes itchy or bleeds.

It's never too late to slip on clothing, slop on SPF30+ or higher, slap on a broad-brimmed hat, seek shade when you can and slide on the sunnies.

PROSTATE

  • This is the most commonly diagnosed cancer.
  • The exact cause of this cancer is unknown.
  • Risk increases with age for men 60 and over, and for those with family history.
  • Early prostate cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms.
  • Later-stage urinating symptoms can be feeling an urgent need to go, difficulty starting, a slow or intermittent stream, leaking or dribbling after urination, pain when urinating, pain in the lower back or pelvis, blood in the urine.
  • Doctors can conduct a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and may also do a rectal examination.

TESTICULAR

  • It's more common for men aged 18 to 39.
  • More common in man born with an undescended or partially descended testicle or testicles.
  • Most cases are found by accident.
  • It's easiest to check your testicles after a shower or bath, when they're warm and relaxed.
  • Look for a hard lump on the front or side, a change in size or shape, a difference in size between testicles, a heavy or dragging feeling the scrotum, pain or discomfort in the testicle, scrotum or lower abdomen.

BOWEL

  • Bowel cancer risks increase with age, with men over 50 the most common to be diagnosed.
  • Risk factors are a history of bowel polyps, ulcerative colitis or Chron's disease, and a family history of the disease.
  • It can be treated if detected early.
  • Most often there are no early symptoms.
  • If your bowel habits change, go see your GP.

Take the opportunity to get your bowel checked by completing the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program.

LUNG

  • Smoking causes 90% of lung cancers in men.
  • Other risk factors are being over 60, a family history of lung cancer, having a history of lung disease and exposure to substances such as asbestos, coal gas, diesel fumes and radiation.
  • This cancer can be hard to diagnose early so if you have any of the following symptoms, you should see your GP - a persistent cough which lasts more than three weeks, a change in a cough or coughing up blood.
  • Need help with quitting smoking? Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or go to www.icanquit.com.au.

For more details on any of the cancers listed above, go to www.cancercouncil.com.au.

Topics:  cancer council australia general-seniors-news health medical advice men's health


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