Putting the CAN in cancer prevention
If you’re like a lot of men, a trip to the doctor isn’t very high on your to-do list. But the reality is that men are 14% more at risk of nearly all the common cancers that affect both sexes like bowel cancer, lung cancer and bladder cancer. That’s beside the cancers that affect only men like prostate cancer, testicular cancer and cancer of the penis.
What should you do?
Get regular check-ups, including the screening tests that can help detect cancer before it causes any symptoms. For men between 15 and 35, that means a periodic doctor’s testicular exam along with regular self-exams. All men older than 50 should have regular screening for colon cancer, and they should make an informed decision about testing for prostate cancer. Men with risk factors should begin both processes even earlier, and every man should routinely inspect himself for signs of melanomas and other skin cancers.
Proceed with C.A.U.T.I.O.N
Being aware of possible symptoms, what is normal for you, and knowing when to go to the doctor is essential to help diagnose cancers earlier. Use this simple reminder as guideline for awareness:
- C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
- A: A sore that does not heal
- U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
- T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
- I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
- O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
- N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
This is only a rough guide as cancers can produce symptoms that don’t show up on the list, such as unexplained weight loss or fatigue. But it is a useful reminder to listen to your body and see your doctor as soon as you notice any changes.
The 8 commandments of cancer prevention
1. Avoid tobacco. This includes exposure to second-hand smoke.
2. Eat properly. Eating too much saturated fat and red meat have been linked to an increase in the risk of colon and prostate cancers. And eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains – the high fiber content may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, and it may even help prevent prostate cancer.
4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer.
5. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one to two drinks a day. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), oesophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon.
6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun. Always protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers.
7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibres, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer. This includes hepatitis viruses, HIV and the human papilloma virus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles.