Thursday, April 30, 2009

Men: Look after your health

Did you know that the leading cancers diagnosed in men are prostate and lung cancer? Also did you know that testicular cancer affects younger men? But the good news is that if you lead a healthy lifestyle and go for regular check-ups you can help beat these cancers.

Due to the widespread awareness among women in terms of breast and cervical cancer, this year the Cancer Association of South Africa and Sanlam are focusing on men’s health in order to help fight men’s cancers. All South Africans need to encourage their brothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers and sons to look after their health.

Lung cancer is the primary cause of death among South African men lost to the disease – almost 5000 per year. Never smoke and don’t let anyone smoke around you.


Reduce your risk of prostate cancer by:

  • Following a Low-fat high-fibre diet
  • Exercising regularly and watching your weight
  • Going for regular medical check ups. From the age of 50, go for an annual Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. The PSA test is a simple blood test that checks for the presence of a certain protein formed in the prostate gland that may indicate the presence of cancer.

Early warning signs of prostate cancer:
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
  • Difficulty in starting and stopping the urine stream

Late warning signs of prostate cancer:
  • Blood in the urine
  • A painful or burning sensation when passing urine
  • Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or pelvic area

If you experience any of these symptoms, go to your doctor without delay. They could be signs of something else, but get it checked out!


Men from age 15 to 40 years need to examine their testicles each month, preferably after a bath or shower, to feel for any pea-sized lumps that could indicate testicular cancer. Did you know that sons of women who had breast cancer have a higher risk of getting testicular cancer?

Warning signs of testicular cancer:
  • Hard, painless, pea-sized lump on the front or side of the testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in the testicle
  • Enlargement of the testicle
  • Change in consistency of the testicle
  • Sudden accumulation of fluid or blood in the scrotum
  • A dull ache in the groin

Unfortunately men often ignore these warning signs, hoping the symptoms will disappear.
Symptoms of testicular cancer in advanced stages:
  • Back and abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Urinary obstruction

Should you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor without delay. Treatment of testicular cancer, even in advanced stages, is reasonably effective.

For more information on men’s health or cancer in general, call CANSA toll-free on 0800 22 66 22 during office hours or visit

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