On average men go to their GP half as often as women. This may in part be the reason why 100,000 men a year die prematurely.
Men may feel embarrassed in seeking help, or hope their symptoms will “just get better”.
In this blog, Dr Liz Towers talks about two specific men’s health issues; testicular cancer and prostate cancer and why it is important to get yourself checked.
Testicular cancer is one of the less common cancers. It usually affects younger men between the ages of 15 and 49.
The main symptoms are a lump or a swelling in the testicle, but it is important to note that most testicular lumps are NOT cancer.
- Men with a brother or father who has had testicular cancer have a slightly higher risk of getting it
- If an undescended testicle is not corrected by the age of 11, a man’s risk of testicular cancer is increased
- In the UK it is more common in white men than men of other ethnic groups – we don’t know why
- Finding cancers early means they are easier to treat and have a better chance of a complete cure.
Being aware of how your testicles feel helps you know if there is a change. If you notice a change that is not normal for you, talk it over with your GP. You do not need to check your testicles every day or even every week. It is enough to do it from time to time.
Click here for information on how to check your testicles and what to look for.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK, with over 40,000 cases diagnosed every year. The five-year survival is now 80% and one-year survival is 70%.
- Age is the most significant risk factor – more than half of all cases are diagnosed in men over 70 and the condition is rare under the age of 50
- A family history of prostate or breast cancer may put you more at risk
- Ethnicity may increase your risk if you are black
- The most common symptoms of prostate cancer and a NON-CANCEROUS prostate are the SAME. They are having to rush to the toilet to pass urine, passing urine more often than usual especially at night, difficulty passing urine, pain when passing urine, and blood in the urine
PSA and screening for prostate cancer
At present, there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer. PSA testing is not recommended for screening in the UK because men with prostate cancer may not have a raised PSA. Two out of three men with a raised PSA do NOT have prostate cancer.
Finally, it is important to remember four in 10 cancers can be prevented largely through lifestyle changes, so:
- Stop smoking
- Keep a healthy body weight
- Cut back on alcohol
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Keep active
- Enjoy the sun safely.
In addition, remember, if you are concerned about testicle or prostate symptoms, please do not be embarrassed to discuss this with your GP.