Time to talk about male cancersTime to talk about male cancers
In her blog for us, Beth Britton writes about the importance of raising awareness of male cancers
The ‘Big C’ as cancer is still often referred to has come a long way since its days as a stigmatised disease that no one talked about. Yet despite cancer becoming a more mainstream talking point, the rates of cancer remain worryingly high, with someone being diagnosed with a form of cancer every two minutes in the UK.
Breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancers account for over half (53%) of all new cancer cases, with cancer detection programmes heavily weighted in favour of women, who are routinely offered cervical and breast screening. In contrast, men aren’t currently routinely offered any screening for male cancers, despite the fact that prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men.
Like many social care providers that I work with, Promedica24 support gentlemen who have been diagnosed with male cancers, particularly prostate cancer given that the incidence of prostate cancer is highest in men aged 75-79. With rates of prostate cancer predicted to rise 12% by 2035, there is an urgent need for all older men, and those who support them, to have a greater understanding of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer in order to be diagnosed earlier and have the greatest chance of survival.
The signs and symptoms to look out for include needing to pee more frequently and often at night, rushing to the toilet, difficulty in starting to pee, straining, taking a long time to pee and/or a weak flow, a feeling that the bladder hasn’t emptied fully and blood in urine or semen.
Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, meaning that the signs and symptoms may only be noticed gradually. The majority of symptoms are associated with urination because as a prostate cancer develops the prostate becomes enlarged and affects the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis.)
Testicular is one of the most treatable types of cancer and commonly affects men aged 15-49, although it would be wrong to assume that if you are an older man you won’t get testicular cancer.
Signs and symptoms include a painless swelling or lump in a testicle, any change in shape or texture of the testicles (including a difference in appearance between one testicle and the other), firmness in a testicle, an ache or pain in the testicles or scrotum which may be intermittent and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
Penile cancer is relatively rare and most commonly affects men over 50. Signs and symptoms include a growth or sore on the penis that doesn’t heal within a few weeks, bleeding from the penis or under the foreskin, an unpleasant smelling discharge, a rash or change of colour on the skin of the penis and/or a thickening of the skin of the penis or foreskin that makes it difficult to draw back the foreskin.
Barriers to accessing a diagnosis
The biggest barriers to men accessing a diagnosis are usually embarrassment about intimate examinations, a fear of what the diagnostic process might entail and worries about the side-effects from any treatments that are needed. There is often a hope that symptoms will just ‘go away’ or are attributable to something other than cancer. Men who live alone are potentially at the greatest risk of a delayed diagnosis, since they may not have anyone close to them to discuss their symptoms with or to support them in seeking advice.
All cancers are most treatable the earlier they are diagnosed, and this year’s Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week is being held between 13th – 19th September where you can find out more about male cancers to help protect your health or the health of a man that you care about.
About the author:
Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care.
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