Mens Cancers - by Dr David Delvin

Please read on for important information re cancers which mainly effect MEN!

Another article deals with the types of cancer which commonly affect WOMEN in the retirement age group. So in this article I am going to look at cancers which affect MEN.

What follows concerns YOU gentlemen – and it’s possible that the advice I give in this article might actually save your life!

So what are the really common cancers which affect males? I find that many men have the wrong idea about this, and think that TESTICLE cancer is the biggest threat to them.

This simply isn’t true; testicular growths aren’t all that common. Also, they mainly affect YOUNGER chaps – it is quite rare for a man in the retirement age group to get this disease.

So let’s have a look at the ‘league table’ of the eight cancers which frequently affect men in the UK. You’ll immediately see that LUNG cancer – which was for many years the commonest malignancy – is now only in second place. There are two reasons for this:

As more and more men have given up smoking, lung cancer rates in males have dropped quite dramatically in recent years, whilst PROSTATE cancer has become more commonly diagnosed in recent years – so it has overtaken lung cancer as the most common tumour to hit British males.

EARLY DIAGNOSIS

Statistics available are quite complex. But one thing is VERY clear, and it’s this: the earlier you get yourself diagnosed, the better are your chances of survival.

Therefore, EVERY man ought to learn the early warning signs of the eight common cancers.  Below, I’m going to tell you what those warning symptoms may be.

If you get any of them, don’t waste time: consult your doctor within a couple of days!  I’ve seen many men who have saved their own lives by reacting promptly in this way

Sadly, I have also seen many chaps who DIDN’T do anything when they got the first symptoms of cancer. And quite often, they lost their lives as a result.

THOSE COMMON CANCERS – One by One in more detail: 

PROSTATE CANCER

First thing to say about the prostate is that it is NOT called ‘the PROSTRATE,’ as about half the British public think - the word is ‘PROSTATE.’

Now the prostate gland is about the size of a large chestnut. Your urinary pipe runs right through the middle of it – just like the hole that kids drill through conkers. So if anything goes wrong with your prostate, that will probably (but not always) interfere with your urinary flow.

Symptoms of prostatic carcinoma are much the same as those of BENIGN (i.e. non-malignant) enlargement of the prostate – which is actually far commoner than cancer. They may include:  Dribbling;   Difficulty getting started;  Having to ‘go’ a lot;  Getting up a lot at night to pass water;  Being totally unable to pee.

In addition, some men get PAIN when they reach orgasm.

If you develop any of these symptoms, bear in mind that the odds are that you HAVEN’T got cancer – just benign enlargement of the prostate. Nevertheless, you should go to your doctor.  He will examine you rectally – because that’s the only way he can feel the prostate. And he will almost certainly do blood tests, to help make the diagnosis.

If by chance you DO turn out to have prostatic cancer and it’s ‘caught’ early, the chances of survival are good. Treatment may involve surgery, radiotherapy or hormone drugs or a combination.

LUNG CANCER

Lung carcinoma occurs almost entirely among long-term smokers, or ex-smokers. There are a few non-smokers who get it - like that nice and much-missed guy Roy Castle.  But such cases are rare. Some of them are caused by ‘passive’ smoking.

Symptoms of early lung cancer are (alas) often pretty vague. Things to look out for include:  A chest infection which refuses to clear up;  Spitting-up of blood;  Persistent pain in the chest;  Persistent weight loss.

If you’re a smoker and you get any of the above symptoms, please see a doctor FAST.  Frankly, lung cancer is not easy to treat. The best hope of success is to catch it really EARLY

BOWEL CANCER

Bowel cancer mainly occurs in the over-50 age group.

Symptoms may include:  Bleeding from the rectum (though this may just be due to piles);  Anaemia (due to blood loss in the motions);  Unexplained and persistent pain in the tummy;  Weight loss;  A fairly sudden and inexplicable CHANGE in your ‘bowel habit.’

Should you notice any of those symptoms, you really must see your GP right away, for an examination (including a rectal exam) and tests.  Don’t be embarrassed – you certainly don’t want to die of embarrassment!! 

Over 60’s are usually now offered free screening in the UK, please take advantage of this together with noting the possible symptoms above. 

Bowel carcinoma is usually treated by surgery. Once again, if it is diagnosed in time, the results of treatment are very good.

BLADDER CANCER

Bladder cancer is yet another condition which mainly affects the over-55s. It’s much more frequent in smokers but not exclusively so.

Symptoms could include BLOOD in the urine.

Admittedly, bloodstained urine (haematuria) can be caused by other conditions – for instance, a urinary infection. But if you get this symptom, you should go to your GP within 24 hours. Most important: take a urine specimen with you.

If there is any suspicion of cancer of the bladder, your doctor will refer you urgently to a urological surgeon (urologist), who will be working with an oncologist (tumour specialist). Their treatment - which may include both surgery and / or chemotherapy - will give you a good chance of recovery.

STOMACH CANCER

This is commonest in men aged over 55. 

Symptoms can be ‘ulcer-like’ symptoms – that is, pain in the upper part of the tummy, often relieved by food or antacids. There may be persistent indigestion, acidity and burping.

If the cancer BLEEDS, you may notice black motions when you go to the toilet. Another possible symptom is unexplained weight loss.

Treatment is generally surgical – to try and remove the tumour.  You can guess what I’m going to say: if you get any of the above symptoms, see a doctor – fast!

NON-HODGKINS LYMPHOMA

This is the rather cumbersome name of a cancer of the white blood cells, which causes swelling in the lymph glands at various places in the body.

It’s been increasing a lot in recent years, and no one is entirely sure why.

The peak age is 40 to 70, and it usually affects men rather more than women.

Symptoms of NHL could be:  Swelling of the lymph glands in the neck, the armpit and elsewhere;  Abdominal swelling;  Fever;  Night sweats;  Weight loss.

All of these symptoms can be caused by other things - so if you get them, please don't ASSUME you have NHL.  You probably haven't.  Nonetheless, check with your doctor.

Treatment by an oncologist (cancer specialist), using chemotherapy and / or radiotherapy, is giving increasingly good results  

GULLET CANCER

This is a growth in the oesophagus (the gullet).

Symptoms would mainly be a feeling of BLOCKAGE of food – which seems to ‘stick’ about half-way down the chest, or just behind the lower end of the breastbone. There may be regurgitation of food.

This cancer is commonest (but not exclusively) in the over-50s, and in those who smoke and/or drink a lot of spirits.

If YOUR food seems to be ‘sticking’ in your chest, see your doctor. He will send you to a specialist who can do special tests (such as barium x-rays, scans and endoscopy) to find out if there is a cancer in the gullet. If there is, treatment may involve surgery, radiotherapy and / or chemotherapy

KIDNEY CANCER

Like so many other carcinomas, this is more frequent in the over-60s.  Obesity and smoking can increase the risk of getting it.

Symptoms can include BLEEDING in the urine. It can also cause pain in the back, and swelling around the kidney area.

Prompt treatment – which usually involves removing the kidney – gives good results.

SUMMING UP

I am sure that by now you can see the two main ‘messages’ in this article:

YOU are in the age group where cancer is commonest;

If you get diagnosed and treated FAST, your chances of beating ‘the Big C’ are good.  Go to see your GP if in doubt about any sypmtoms - don't panic but do GO!

Let me just add one other message: please DON’T SMOKE as cancer rates are much less in non-smokers!

© 2006, Dr David Delvin / Retirement Matters Ltd. All rights reserved.