Men in Australia are much more likely to be diagnosed with and die from cancer than women. In fact, according to the Cancer Council of WA the lifetime cancer risk is 1 in 2 for men and 1 in 3 for women. Men are over represented in all gender shared cancers including the most common – lung, bowel and skin. The experience of cancer in one form or another is never good, but it does beg the question, why the gender disparity? There is no simple answer, but we do know that men in general are less likely to visit their GP to report or act on any unusual symptoms or changes.
Cancer is a disease driven by changes in our DNA/ genes which causes a group of abnormal cells to divide and grow out of control. It usually occurs in a specific spot but can spread to other parts of the body. We are still some ways from finding a cure, but we do know that finding cancer early improves our chances of successful treatment and long-term survival. For the average bloke general things that warrant a chat with a GP could include:
- unusual lumps or a sore that isn’t healing properly;
- unusual changes in our testicles – changes in shape, consistency or a lump;
- A persistent cough or hoarseness, coughing up blood;
- unexplained weight loss;
- moles that have changed shape, size or colour, or bleed, or an inflamed skin sore that hasn’t healed;
- blood in a bowel motion;
- persistent changes in toilet habits or urinary problems or changes.
It is important to note that these symptoms are likely to be related to more common, less serious health problems. However, we still need to discuss them to ease our concerns or pick up something early rather than later.
Unfortunately, it is often only when blokes find they are progressed with cancer that they actually start to think about modifying their behaviour and making healthy changes. So, what can us men do to prevent or lessen our chances of developing cancer?
- Stop smoking – lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australian men;
- Be SunSmart – protect our self in the sun and take care not to burn;
- Stay in shape – aim for a healthy body weight, watch our waistline;
- Move more – be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days;
- Eat for health – A varied diet with lots of fruit/ vegetables and limit red meat;
- Limit alcohol – no more than two standard drinks a day and try to have one or two alcohol-free days a week;
- Have a chat with our GP about our prostate especially if we are over 45 years;
- Use the Bowel Screen Kit when it arrives in the mail;
- Get to know our family history of cancer.
Remember it’s our health, if we have any concerns or questions, we need to go and chat with a GP, don’t wait and leave it till it’s too late.
Brenden and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative delivered by WMH (Inc.)
Phone: 08 9690 2277