Research into breast cancer in men
An interesting article has been published recently in US magazine Time, which draws on the results of new research into breast cancer in men. In the largest study yet into the male disease, the results of which were presented to the American Society of Breast Surgeons in Phoenix, US, researchers found that while breast cancer is much rarer in men, those who do develop the disease will not survive as long as their female counterparts. Researchers have suggested that this is due to a lack of awareness about the disease amongst men, as many do not know that both sexes are susceptible to the disease.
The researchers, lead by Dr. Jon Greif, a breast cancer surgeon in Oakland, California, examined and analysed data from breast cancer cases in the US over a ten year period from 1998 to 2007. Of those included in the study, there were a total of 13,457 male patients and 1.4 million female patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The database used contained data on about 75 percent of all breast cancer cases in the US during that period. The study found that, on average, women with breast cancer lived two years longer than men with breast cancer. It was also found that men’s breast tumors were larger at diagnosis, more advanced and more likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Men were also diagnosed later in life. Men were diagnosed at an average age of 63 whilst women were diagnosed at 59.
Dr Grief stated that many men have no idea that they can get breast cancer, and that some doctors are unaware as well, “dismissing symptoms that would be an automatic red flag in women.” The causes of male breast cancer are not well researched but it is thought that, as in women, risk factors include age, genetic mutations, a family history, and heavy drinking.
Cancer of the Penis (penile cancer)
There are about 400 cases of cancer of the penis diagnosed each year in the UK. The exact cause is unknown. It is much less common in men who have had all or part of their foreskin removed (been circumcised) in early years. This is because men who have not been circumcised may find it more difficult to pull back the foreskin enough to clean thoroughly underneath. The human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes penile warts, also increases the risk of cancer of the penis.
Some skin conditions that affect the penis can go on to develop into cancer if they are left untreated. If you notice white patches, red scaly patches, or red moist patches of skin on your penis, it’s important to see your doctor so that you can get any treatment that you need.
Cancer of the penis is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people. It is not caused by an inherited faulty gene and so other members of a family don’t have an increased risk of developing it.
Symptoms of penile cancer
It is important to be aware of what is normal for you and report any changes to your doctor. Penile cancer symptoms may include
- A growth or sore on the penis that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks – it can look like a wart, ulcer or blister and is not always painful
- Bleeding from the penis or from under the foreskin
- A foul smelling discharge
- Difficulty in drawing back the foreskin (phimosis)
- A rash on the penis
- A change in the colour of the penis or foreskin
These symptoms do not always mean you have penile cancer. They may be symptoms of other medical conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases.
If you have advanced penile cancer you may have other symptoms including swollen lymph nodes in your groin, tiredness, pain in your stomach or bones and weight loss.
Men are often embarrassed or frightened by symptoms and may put off going to their doctor until their cancer is more advanced. It is important to report any symptoms to your doctor straight away.
More information is available at:
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes – in the UK alone, 2.8 million have been diagnosed and a further 850,000 are thought to be living with the condition without knowing it.
So, what is diabetes? Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to break down glucose into energy because the body is not producing insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the sugar in the blood, it produces too little, or the insulin fails to work properly.
According to the World Health Organisation, type 1 diabetes affects 10 per cent of British sufferers. This variant of the condition occurs when the body produces no insulin and, for that reason, is often referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. It usually develops before the age of 40 and will often develop during the teenage years and symptoms can develop quickly. Sufferers will normally be required to inject insulin on a daily basis and must be careful to monitor their glucose levels.
Far more common, however, is type 2 diabetes which affects 90 per cent of UK sufferers. This second variant occurs when there is not enough insulin produced, or when the body’s cells do not react to it.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are often all that is needed to maintain good health but, as it is a progressive condition, sufferers may eventually require medication to control blood glucose levels. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you will receive support from medical professionals and dieticians who can give dietary advice.
Symptoms The problem with type 2 diabetes is that the symptoms can easily be missed, so that many develop the condition long before they are diagnosed.
Common signs that you may be a sufferer are feeling very thirsty, needing to go to the toilet more frequently than usual (especially at night), extreme tiredness and weight loss or muscle wasting.
Other symptoms include blurred vision, a tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, slow-healing wounds and frequent infections.
Prevention It is no secret that type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity. Being overweight, not getting enough exercise and an unhealthy diet are all known to increase the risk of developing the condition.
Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is all that is needed to reduce that risk. If you are overweight, losing those excess pounds will do no harm. According to the NHS, women should keep their waist size under 31.5 inches, while men should stay below 37 inches.
The recommended exercise to achieve or maintain that particular goal is just half an hour of moderate aerobic activity (a brisk walk or a bike ride), five days a week.
Diet is also important, obviously, and the charity Diabetes UK recommends plenty of fibre, fresh fruit and veg and a twice-weekly portion of oily fish to stay in tip-top shape. Too much sugar, salt and alcohol is known to bump up your chances of developing the condition and quitting smoking will not only reduce your risk of diabetes but also heart disease and cancer.
For more information on diabetes, click here: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/
GETTING MEN TALKING ABOUT THEIR HEALTH…
It seems to be a sad fact of life that men, unlike women, are less willing to monitor their own health, take note of changes or potential problems and then discuss those issues with doctors or medical advisors. Perhaps there is a belief that if signs and symptoms are ignored, they will go away. Or maybe some consider it is not macho to keep bothering GPs about little aches, pains, lumps and bumps. This thought process can be worse if a man’s concerns are about his private parts and how they are working – or not working as the case may be. Ignoring developing problems in this area, as well as other parts of the body, can become very serious.
One example is that of prostate cancer…
“It’s OK, it is only prostate cancer, they can treat that very easily these days,” is a common misconception. It is true that the treatments for this disease are improving all the time and, when caught early enough, the success rate is very good indeed - but we need to help more men to catch it early enough!
Every year in the UK, there are more than 30,000 men diagnosed with this particular disease and more than 10,000 of them die from it. The sad thing is, many of those deaths could have been avoided. So, the men who ignore pain in the genitals, peeing and erection problems, passing blood in the urine or other goings-on in the nether regions, might be dramatically shortening their lives.
As our website develops, we will be providing men (and their wives/partners) with information about how to take more care of their health and where and when to go for help. We will achieve much of this by using our website as a signpost to the charities specialising in a particular illness or disease. Continuing with the example of prostate cancer, we would guide people to other charities such as the excellent Prostate Cancer Charity at http://www.prostate-cancer.org.uk/
Working with these other charities and providing links to their sources of information, we aim to make blue ribbons and the Blue Ribbon Foundation a rallying point for male cancer and health problems and, as such, a very good starting point for specialised help!
Being told you have a serious condition or cancer is a terrible moment in anybody’s life - but it does not have to be the last moment.
Another example is testicular cancer…
Testicular cancer – cancer of the testicles – is fortunately quite rare. In the UK, about 2,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year. It is most commonly found in the age range 15 to 44. Approximately 70 men die from the disease each year in the UK. Treatments are usually very successful with survival rates over 95%.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in/on the testicles. Other symptoms can include a dull ache in the scrotum (the sac of skin that contains the testicles) or a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
Men with concerns about their testicles should see their GPs as soon as possible and discuss all the facts and symptoms. Early diagnosis increases the likelihood of successful treatment.
Finally, check out these important, but worrying male health facts… We believe almost all of them can be improved!
- 40% of men die prematurely - before the age of 75.
- Unskilled manual men have a life expectancy of 73 and in some parts of England, it is as low as 66.
- Male death rates are significantly affected by social deprivation and unemployment.
- Coronary heart disease kills more men than women and on average men develop it 10-15 years earlier.
- Men are 60% more likely than women to develop a non sex-specific cancer and are 70% more likely to die from the disease.
- Men are more likely to drink alcohol above recommended levels, smoke cigarettes and eat a poor diet.
- By 2015, 36% of men will be obese and, by 2025, only 13% will have a healthy body mass index.
- Men visit their GP 20% less frequently than women and are also much less likely to have regular dental check-ups or to use community pharmacies as a source of advice and information about health.
- NHS smoking cessation programmes are less well used by men than women - as are weight management services and health trainers.
So, come on men, women, wives, partners, family and friends, we are all in this together! Let’s all do our bit to improve these statistics.
Ignoring any health concerns of any individual, male or female, can have a devastating effect on lots of people. Burying heads in the sand and hoping things will improve by themselves is not an option!