Getting To Grips With Male Cancer
More than 14-million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer every year, including more than 100,000 South Africans, and one in every eight men in South Africa is at risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. Given these stats, it’s evident that men of all ages, shapes and sizes should take the time to educate themselves about the disease and what can be done to reduce the risks of being affected.
The Hollard Daredevil Run is a fun and non-competitive event that takes a light-hearted approach to raising awareness of male cancers and the importance of early testing. It seeks to highlight helpful information every man should know:
Testicular cancer occurs when cells in either one or both testicles become malignant. While testicular cancer accounts for just one percent of all cancer diagnoses, it is still one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 39, with some men at a higher risk of developing the disease than others.
Men born with undescended testicles (either one or both) are more likely to develop testicular cancer, as are those with a family history of the disease. Other risks include cases of severe trauma to the testicles, and HIV infection. It’s important for men affected by any of these to visit a doctor for regular check-ups and tests.
Other symptoms are however easier to identify, such as any type of pain in the testicular area, or lumps in the testicles themselves, which can be easily detected by performing a self-examination at home after a warm shower or bath.
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in men over the age of 50 and, while the disease does affect white men in this age group, there has been a significant rise in the number of prostate cancer cases among black men in recent years.
Some early warning signs to look out for include difficulty in passing urine, swollen legs and pain or discomfort in the pelvic area. However, prostate cancer tends to be one of the trickier types of cancer to catch early on, because in many cases there are no noticeable early warning signs. For this reason, it is vital that men over the age of 50 visit the doctor for regular tests and check-ups (this should be brought forward to age of 40, if prostate cancer runs in the family).
There are many ways to test for prostate cancer, including the digital rectal exam (DRE) where the doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to examine the prostate, and the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test which involves a blood test or a simple finger-prick test to check for elevated PSA in the prostate gland.
Other forms of male cancers
There are many other types of male cancer on the rise and regular testing to ensure early detection needs to become a priority, for your own health.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer diagnosed in South Africa and, according to the 2011 statistics of the National Cancer Registry, increased by 47 percent between 2010 and 2011 alone.
People with lighter or freckled skin are known to be at a higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, as well as those who experience excessive exposure to the sun’s rays, or any other type of radiation. Wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun are highly effective preventative measures to avoid developing this disease.
Breast cancer in men doesn’t seem to get the attention it deserves, considering that the number of diagnosed cases increased by more than seven percent in 2011, and it should be a growing concern for men between the ages of 40 and 80.
Just as a woman would perform a breast self-examination at home, men should check their breasts regularly for lumps or any type of irregularity – especially if breast cancer runs in the family, or if they have ever been exposed to oestrogen or steroids.
Don’t wait until it’s too late – get educated and book an appointment with your GP to get tested today, and remember that cancer affects men of all ages, shapes, sizes and races.
Support male cancer awareness and show cancer survivors you care by participating in the Hollard Daredevil Run 2017, where men over 40 are provided with a free prostate specific antigen test (PSA) in the lead-up to the event.
Challenge your mates to participate and bring your loved ones along to cheer you on as you and thousands of men join the fight to run cancer out of town. For more information, visit www.daredevilrun.com.
The Hollard Daredevil Run will take place in Mbombela on Friday, 24 March 2017. Click on the above link for more information and an entry form.