June is Everyman Male Cancer Awareness month. This annual event is used to heighten the knowledge and understanding of Testicular Cancer and Prostate Cancer, the most common cancers in the male demographic.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in the 15 – 44 age group. A 2006 survey conducted by Everyman, a campaign directed at men by the Institute of Cancer Research, revealed that only 28% of men check their testicles regularly for signs of testicular cancer. Though it is still quite rare, early detection is the key to saving lives. There are 2,000 cases a year in the UK. With treatment Testicular cancer is 97 – 99% curable, if caught in the early stages. However, it still causes approximately 70 deaths per year.
Prostate cancer has overtaken lung cancer to be the most common cancer in men. Every year in the UK, 36,000 men are diagnosed with it, resulting in 10,000 deaths. That's one man every hour. The majority of men with prostate cancer are aged over 60 years. Although this cancer can also occur in younger individuals, it is very rare under the age of 50.
The three biggest issues around these male cancers are:
- men's lack of knowledge on the subject,
- men don't like to admit when there is something wrong with them and
- men don't like to discuss their intimate anatomy with others.
It is these reasons why Men's Sexual Health has dedicated this campaign to such an important cause. We need to inform men of the risks, how to check themselves and to be comfortable to talk to their GP.
We have once again teamed up with the Trowbridge Tigers to raise awareness to these cancers. When they heard about what we were doing they understood how important this cause was especially as some of the players had been directly affected by the issue.
Duncan Boydell who plays centre half for the team discussed with us his experience:
"My Dad was 63 when he found out he had prostate cancer. He had known for a while something was wrong with him but didn't want to go to the doctors to talk about it. By the time he did it was too late. He was told he had 6 months left to live. We were fortunate, that with radiotherapy we got to spend a year with him before he passed. He died a just one year and a day today (the day of our photo shoot with the Trowbridge Tigers). This campaign is so important. Men of all ages need to stop burying their heads in the sand, and to regularly check themselves and go to their GP if unsure."
The poster will be sent to leisure centres, gyms, sports clubs, libraries, working men's club and colleges. In addition, the Men's Sexual Health team will be touring around the county with display stands at some of these locations, interacting with the public, giving out leaflets, explaining how to self check with interactive models and answering any questions.
The early signs of testicular cancer are usually obvious and easy to spot, regularly checking and self examination will help identify the normal feel and size of the testicles, making it easier to identify signs that don't seem or feel right.
Look out for one or more of the following:
- A hard lump on the front or side of the testicle
- Swelling or enlargement of a testicle
- An increase in firmness of a testicle
- Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum
- An unusual difference between one testicle and the other
- A heavy feeling in the scrotum
- A dull ache in the lower stomach, groin or scrotum
- Passing blood in urine – occasionally accompanied by backache
These symptoms do not necessarily indicate testicular cancer – they may be caused by a curable infection. If you identify anything that is different or changed, or if you suffer any of these symptoms consult your local GUM clinic or GP – remember, while most lumps are not cancerous, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier treatment can commence.
How to self-examine: Everyone is different, so if you're going to pick up any changes, you need to know what's normal for you. It is advised from the time of puberty onwards you should do a regular self-check (at least once a month), the best time to do this is in the shower or bath, or soon afterwards when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed.
- Hold your scrotum in the palm of your hand and feel the size and weight of the testicles, it is common to have one testicle slightly larger than the other one, or one that hangs lower.
- Feel each testicle and roll it between your thumb and finger, it should feel smooth. You'll feel a soft, tender tube towards the back of the testicle, this is normal and is called the Epididymis.
- Look and feel for any lumps, bumps or swelling. In a routine of checking you will be able to identify what is normal for you.
- It is unusual to develop cancer in both testicles at the same time, so if you are wondering whether a testicle is feeling normal or not you can compare it with the other.
If you notice anything unusual about your testicles you should go and see a doctor as soon as possible. Act now, don't wait a week or two. Any changes may have other causes, but you should always be checked out.
The prostate is a small gland about the size and shape of a walnut. It lies below the bladder and surrounds the upper part of the urethra – the tube that carries urine and semen out through the penis. The prostate gland produces a thick clear fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen.
As a man gets older, his prostate may get bigger and restrict the flow of urine. This very common condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer but causes some of the same symptoms as prostate cancer.
The following symptoms may be caused by problems that are much less serious than prostate cancer, try not to worry if you develop any of them, but do get them checked out.
- Difficulty or pain in passing urine
- Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
- Frequent visits to the toilet, especially at night
- Starting and stopping while urinating
- Dribbling urine
- A feeling of not having emptied the bladder fully
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in back, hips or pelvis
Unlike testicular cancer where you can do a self examination, we would advice you that if you have any concerns to visit your GP where he will discuss your symptoms and will then decided if you need to be tested.
For further information on testicular and prostate cancer visit the Everyman Male Cancer website.
If you would like a copy of our campaign poster please email us at email@example.com.