Many men give the rugby line-up or Saturday’s tee-off time more thought than cancer, which is why we’re talking about cancers affecting men.
For many men, cancer is the last thing on their minds.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t on my own consult my GP and ask them to test me for cancer. It never dawned on me that I might have cancer,” says Jacob Skosana, a prostate cancer survivor.
“When the results came back following a blood test at a CANSA wellness day, they indicated that my PSA levels were high. I was immediately referred to a specialist who confirmed that I had prostate cancer. I’m grateful for the workplace wellness programme and thankful to CANSA.”
Skosana was fortunate to catch cancer early, but many men are not.
Make sure the men in your life know how to reduce their risks of cancer by spotting the early signs.
According to research by The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), these are the top five cancers affecting men:
1. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer affects one in 18 men in our country and often develops without any symptoms in the early stages.
When the disease is advanced, symptoms are likely to include straining to pass urine, leaking urine, bloody urine, and bone pain. If prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated early, the prognosis is often good.
CANSA recommends regular screening from the age of 40 years, especially if there is any family history of cancer. This includes a blood test called the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test to detect any prostate abnormalities. Available at all CANSA Care Centres.
2. Colorectal cancer
It is estimated that one in 75 SA men will develop colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum).
In early stages, symptoms are not present, however when they do occur they include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, stomach pain, weakness, and weight loss.
CANSA encourages early detection and screening by means of a colonoscopy, starting at age 50 and repeated every 10 years depending on the individual’s risk factors. Faecal occult blood tests are offered at most CANSA Care Centres that look for microscopic blood in the faeces, which may be a sign of a growth, inflammation or bleeding in the digestive system.
3. Lung cancer
Coming in third is lung cancer with estimates that one in 76 SA men will develop lung cancer.
When symptoms appear, they include shortness of breath, cough, a change in sputum, chest pain, noisy breathing, hoarseness, and coughing up blood.
Smoking accounts for the majority of preventable lung cancers, and the best way to prevent the disease is to not use tobacco products and avoid second-hand smoke.
4. Kaposi sarcoma (KS)
The most common AIDS-related cancer worldwide is Kaposi sarcoma (KS), the fourth most prevalent cancer in South African men.
Approximately one in 315 South African males are affected with KS which sees patches of abnormal tissue grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, throat or in other organs. About one-third of people with classic KS develop another cancer which can be fatal.
5. Bladder cancer
The fifth most common cancer in South African men is bladder cancer affecting one in 148 men. The largest risk factor that can be avoided is smoking, which doubles the chance of bladder cancer.
No screening is available, however, blood in the urine, a change in urine colour, the need to go frequently, and burning pain are some of the symptoms.
What about testicular cancer?
While it isn’t in the top five, we hear a lot about testicular cancer because it is the most common cancer among young men.
In South Africa, it affects one in 2 084 men aged between 15 and 39 years.
Early detection improves the survival rate and a testicular self-examination each month is an effective way for men to look out for any unusual or abnormal signs.
The symptoms appear in both the testicles and scrotum and include lumps, swelling and pain.
For more information about cancers affecting men, visit www.cansa.org.za
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