We know that Aussie men – particularly of older generations – aren’t really known for opening up about their health and ‘life stuff’. But whether it’s Fathers’ Day or Men’s Health Week, we want to encourage men to check in with their health all year round. To get the ball rolling, here are some key points about men’s health and cancer.
Men and cancer risk
This year, over 76,700 men are expected to be diagnosed with cancer – that is around 8,800 more men than women. So, why is it that more men get cancer?
Generally, men have higher rates of tobacco and alcohol use, poorer diet, and obesity – all risk factors for developing a cancer. Around 1/3 of all cancers can be prevented. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk:
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 you or a man in your life 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.
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.