As part of our ongoing series of health columns, Dr Debbie Austin, High Peak GP and member of the Governing Body of NHS North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, talks about raising awareness of men’s cancers.
First team players from Chesterfield FC were feeling blue for all the right reasons on Friday. They took a break from training for their local derby against Mansfield Town to show their support for Blue September, a campaign raising awareness of men’s cancers.
Tendayi Darikwa, Ritchie Humphreys and Jay O’Shea were all but singing the blues at the Proact Stadium as they donned home shirts and unfurled scarves for the campaign founded by the Urology Foundation to reduce the number of men dying needlessly from cancer.
It’s not well known that men are actually at higher risk of developing a wide range of cancers than women. But men can significantly reduce their risk of developing prostate, lung, skin, bowel and testicular cancer by heeding some sound advice on healthy lifestyles and by looking out for the tell-tale signs of various cancers – many of which can be cured if caught early enough.
By detecting cancer in its early stages you greatly increase your chances of beating the disease. Cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence as there is now a wide range of treatments. But the sooner they start the more successful they are likely to be.
Symptoms include unusual growths or lumps, unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite. Other symptoms include a sore or ulcer that won’t heal, a nagging cough or hoarseness, or coughing up blood. Men should visit their GP if they have a mole that bleeds or changes shape, unexplained changes in bowel or bladder habits, or unusual discharges.
Men should look out for blood or brown “coffee grounds” in vomit or stools, or recurrent pain in any part of the body. Although the symptoms are often signs of more common, less serious problems, men should call their doctor straight away if they persist. Men can also get free, confidential advice by calling NHS 111.
If you are aged between 60 and 70, you will automatically be invited to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme every two years – please consider doing so very carefully. If you are not sure, talk to your GP or partner, family or friends about it. The screen can detect bowel cancer before obvious symptoms begin to appear and can be a real life-saver.
If you are over 70, you can request a screening kit by calling a freephone helpline on 0800 707 6060.
Men can cut their cancer risk by:
• Stubbing out the fags – smoking is the main cause of lung cancer and increases the risk of developing over 12 other cancers, including mouth and bowel cancers
• Drinking less - try alcohol-free days and non-alcoholic drinks
• Keeping in trim - aim to maintain a healthy body weight
• Eating fresh food, not fast food - choose a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and limit intake of red or processed meat
• Getting up and getting active - be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days or every day
• Being sun safe - protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation by applying sunscreen, covering up and limiting the time spent in the sun.
Chesterfield FC understands the importance of keeping in tip-top shape, and that means being vigilant about the signs of potentially serious health problems. But you don’t need to be a professional sportsperson to take good care of your health.
That’s why I’m urging football fans to follow the CCG’s tips for a healthy lifestyle and to visit their GP if they spot a symptom that concerns them.