Hey Dad, how’s your health?

1 September 2019 | Cancer Council NSW

As families come together this Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day, take a moment to check in with the men in your life about their health. Aussie Dads – particularly of older generations – aren’t known for being forthcoming about their health and “life stuff”. But this is all the more reason to check in with him this Father’s Day.

Men and cancer risk

This year, over 78,000 men are expected to be diagnosed with cancer – that’s around 11,500 more men than women. So, why is it that more men get cancer?

In general, men have more risk factors. The risk factors include higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use, poorer diets and obesity. Around one third of all cancers in men can be prevented. Talk to your Dad about these healthy habits which can lower his risk of a range of cancers:

  • Stop smoking – lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australian men
  • Be SunSmart – protect yourself in the sun (Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide)
  • Stay in shape – aim for a healthy body weight
  • Move your body – be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most or all days
  • Eat for health – choose a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and limit your intake of red meat
  • Limit alcohol – if you drink, limit yourself to no more than two standard drinks a day (recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council) and try one or two alcohol-free days a week.

Early detection can help save men from cancer

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer. Many people don’t realise it kills almost as many Aussie men each year as prostate cancer.

Screening for bowel cancer involves a simple, at-home test called a faecal occult blood test (FOBT). This test looks for traces of blood in the poo which are invisible and could be a sign of a precancerous lesion, bowel cancer or other bowel related issues.

People aged between 50 and 74 will receive a free home testing kit from the Australian Government in the mail every two years.

If your Dad falls into this age group, find out if he’s done the test. If he’s received the test, but hasn’t completed it get on his case. Doing this simple home test could save his life.

More on screening and early detection of cancer.

What about men who have already been diagnosed?

Men who have been diagnosed with cancer often feel a range of emotions, from sadness to anger, instability, and vulnerability, and some are at higher risk of suicide.  While a lot of men don’t like talking about how they’re coping, it’s important for them to know there is plenty of information and support out there.

Cancer Council NSW has a range of resources and services to assist men, from diagnosis, through the treatment phase and beyond cancer, even if you live in a remote area.

Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for Information and Support, and to talk to a health professional. We can link you up with these services, or just have a chat and answer your questions over the phone.