Men, take care of your health

2016-07-27 06:00

IT is important that men have a positive mindset when it comes to going for regular health check-ups and screening. At the end of the day it's common sense - early detection has saved many lives. Men need to know their bodies and proactively seek medical advice when they detect abnormalities and arrange for relevant screening, especially if their family history indicates a predisposition towards a particular condition or cancer.

Although prostate cancer accounts for the highest percentage of male cancers in SA and worldwide, it is important for men to take note of other prevalent cancers so they can be aware of symptoms and factors that may increase or reduce their risk for these cancers.

Top cancers affecting SA males, according to the 2010 National Cancer Registry, include prostate cancer, Kaposi sarcoma, lung cancer and colorectal cancer

Prostate cancer does not develop suddenly. There is a gradual change from normal prostate cells, through various levels of cell abnormality, to pre-cancer lesions and eventually cancer. This whole process can take many years.

Kaposi sarcoma (KS) causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, throat or in other organs - in HIV/Aids patients, the disease moves quickly

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women worldwide, and is more common in men than women. Smoking accounts for the majority of preventable lung cancers.

Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a small growth of tissue that starts in the lining and grows into the centre of the colon or rectum. Doctors can remove polyps during the colonoscopy procedure.

Testicular cancer affects mostly men aged between 15 and 39. Younger men are encouraged to conduct regular testicular self-examinations soon after the onset of puberty. Feel for any lumps, changes in size or irregularities and consult a health practitioner if any abnormalities are detected.

Aside from regular screening and medical check-ups, men may reduce their cancer risk, by making the following smart choices:

• Live a balanced lifestyle (which includes intake of healthy food and drink, avoiding alcohol and tobacco; regular exercise, responsible sexual behaviour)

• Avoid carcinogens (cancer-causing agents)

• Be aware of changes in their body, as well as the warning signs of cancer

Cansa Care Centres offer a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which is a finger-prick blood test to help detect prostate abnormalities; education on self-testicular exams; colorectal cancer screening - testing for occult (concealed) blood in stool; and FotoFinder screening - mole mapping dermoscope device for detecting skin cancer.

Phone the tol-free call centre on 0800 22 6622, or email info@cansa.org.za You can also join Champions of Hope Facebook Group for cancer survivors and chat to peers who are facing similar challenges.

Cansa ensures that South African men have access to valuable and potentially life-saving information regarding symptoms of male cancers via our 30 Cansa Care Centres countrywide, and via our mobile health clinics for men in remote areas, throughout the year.

In addition, Cansa raises awareness of male cancers through the annual Movember and DareDevil campaigns and the Testi-monials campaign.

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