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by SusieQ

Cancer Support Specialist's View
15 June 2016 at 16:13

Men, and cancer symptoms...

My blog this week is for you, the men out there, who have chanced upon our website (or may already be a regular online visitor)...

It's Men's Health Awareness week, (June 13th - 17th) organised by Men's Health Forum, whose purpose is to help all men and boys to have the information, services and treatments they need to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives.

Their focus this year is on stress, and the effect stress can have on men's lives. As I'm speaking from a cancer perspective, then this ties in with the hidden fears and stresses you may feel about your health - yet may not feel able to discuss those worries with anyone. Partly, I think, because boys are taught from an early age to be ‘macho’, strong, and that admitting emotions or asking for help may be seen as a weakness. Health, in particular, seems to be something men don’t talk about, unless it’s a sports injury, or incurred through some masculine pursuit….

It can also apply to talking about someone else’s cancer…wives and partners often contact us frustrated that they can’t get their men to talk or open up…whereas men will be in touch to confess they don’t know what to say…

Cancer Research UK, on their web page 'Men and cancer'  point out that the number of men getting cancer is rising. They note that men are 14% more likely to get cancer than women - partly because men are living longer than ever before. One of the biggest risk factors for cancer is the aging process. We should reflect that the number surviving is also increasing, and cancer caught early means people have a much better chance of recovery.

It may be embarrassment about symptoms, feeling that you're too busy to go the doctors, dont want to be a bother, or hoping by ignoring your health worries they'll go away. This may about physical symptoms, or stress in your life...which may then start showing itself in other ways...being short with your family and friends, reckless driving and road rage, drinking more...becoming more withdrawn...

More and more cancer charities are trying to engage with men in a more 'blokey way'. Bowel Cancer UK, perhaps following the success of Prostate Cancer Uk's Movember campaign, have a fundraiser during December, Decembeard, which promotes more whiskery growth, in order to highlight the Uk’s second biggest cause of cancer deaths. It’s a way of getting men involved in male bonding activities, in a humorous manner…conversation and teasing in the pub, or at work or the gym, about the success (or not) of the fuzzy faces…it opens up the cancer topic in a non threatening way.

Prostate Cancer UK use a similar approach - I particularly like their latest advert featuring the teenage son, lecturing his dad on getting checked out - it made my husband chuckle...normally he zones out at health related TV...

If you are a man reading this, and have any of the following symptoms…it’s not difficult to book an appointment with your GP just to get them checked out. They won’t think you’re a time waster, and more than likely can reassure all is well…but at least you can put the concerns behind you:-

• Pain or difficulty having a pee (urination to use the technical term)…and/or blood in the urine…could be sign of prostate cancer
• Testicular lumps and bumps – examine yourself monthly…any changes…get them checked out.
• Persistent bowel problems, lots of wind, bloatedness, blood in the stools, or any change in bowel movements .
• Nipple discharge, scaliness of skin around the nipple or lumps/bumps/ puckering on chest wall/breast area – men get breast cancer too…
• Weight loss when you’re not on a diet – weight does fluctuate, so don’t panic, but anything more than 10 lbs or so should be reported.
• Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
• Tiredness (fatigue) that doesn’t get better with rest.
• Difficulty swallowing – if you find you’re opting for soup more than solids as it’s easier to manage…time to get it checked out.
• Changes in the skin…moles changing/growing/bleeding…..
• Mouth changes..white patches in mouth or on tongue, or any persistent sore areas…

And finally,.... I've raised the issue of 'stress'...if you're feeling anxious, depressed, have trouble sleeping or with concentration, these are also good reasons to see your GP and talk things through.

If you're stressed because of the effect of cancer on you, or a loved one - again, it's a valid and understandable reason to seek help. At Maggie's Centres, we recognise the need to address stress and it's impact, during any cancer experience, and you could drop in to a physical centre, or message us here online to explore ways to manage those anxieties and concerns....

A problem shared is a problem halved...

Warm wishes


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