Below we outline a range of common but serious health conditions which can affect men. We urge you to go speak to a doctor if you are worried about your health, or if you have some of the symptoms mentioned below. You can find you local doctor via the links below, depending on where you live in the UK:
England – NHS Choices
Scotland - NHS24
Wales – NHSDirect Wales
Northern Ireland – NIDirect
Please note our disclaimer below.
Cancer is a term used for diseases where there is an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. Cancer cells can then prevent the operation of that part of the body, as well as spread to other organs. There is a wide range of cancers which can affect men, and some of the prominent are included below.
Each year about 10,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer, which is the 4th most common cancer in men in the UK. Smoking is one of the most common causes of bladder cancer, and this cancer is more likely to occur in later life.
Symptoms may include blood in the urine, the need to pass urine more often and occasionally abdominal pain (in the tummy or lower back). As with many other cancers, early diagnosis is key in increasing your chances of survival; 80 – 90% of men who have their bladder cancer diagnosed at an early stage live for more than 5 years.
If you are worried or are exhibiting any of these symptoms, then go to the doctor for a check up.
For further information on bladder cancer visit:
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer for men in the UK. Around 24,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in men.
It is known that smokers and ex-smokers have a particularly high risk of developing the disease. 8 in 10 cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking. However, there are other factors that increase the risk of developing lung cancer disease, for example, exposure to chemicals found in specific workplaces or environments, such as asbestos, radon gas, and diesel exhaust fumes.
Symptoms may include a cough that doesn’t go away, a long standing cough getting worse, unexplained breathlessness, chest infections, coughing blood, unexplained weight loss, chest and/or shoulder pains, an unexplained tiredness or lack of energy. In the case of any of these symptoms, or if you are worried about your risk, do speak to your doctor, or find out more information from the sources below.
For more information visit:
Pancreatic cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK, and is slightly more prevalent in men than woman. Pancreatic cancer (cancer of the pancreas, which is based in your upper abdomen) doesn’t usually give rise to any symptoms or signs in the early stages. This means it can be very difficult to detect and diagnose; however, catching the cancer early can greatly increase the chances of survival. As the cancer grows the symptoms it causes will depend on the type of pancreatic cancer and where it is in the pancreas. Example symptoms are abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss and possibly bowel problems, nausea and vomiting.
Smoking is the only fully confirmed risk for pancreatic cancer, but the risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age, and higher risk has been associated with obesity.
As with other cancers, if you are concerned or want simply to have yourself checked, go to see your doctor.
For more information visit:
Your prostate is a gland that lies underneath the bladder, and surrounds the tube (the urethra) that men pass urine and semen through. Only men have a prostate. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. There are over 40,000 new cases every year in the UK, and around 10,000 men per year die from the condition. 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
In terms of risk, older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer, and Black men are more at risk than others. Often there can be no symptoms until the cancer has spread, so it is vital to both go for regular check-ups particularly when you are over 50, as well as go to the doctor if you experience any symptoms. Possible symptoms may include a weak or reduced urine flow, a need to urinate frequently, difficulty or pain when passing urine, pain in the testicles, or blood in the urine or semen. However, there are a number of benign (i.e. non-cancer) conditions of the prostate which can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to talk to a professional.
For more information about prostate cancer, visit:
Testicular cancer – cancer of the testicles – is fortunately quite rare. In the UK, about 2,200 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year. It is most commonly found in the age range 15 to 45. Treatments are usually successful with survival rates at 96%, but early diagnosis is key.
There are few known strong risk factors for testicular cancer. However, there is some research which suggests that men with a family genetic history of testicular cancer may be more at risk. Likewise, Caucasian men, men with HIV and men with fertility problems may be more likely to develop testicular cancer.
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a painless lump or swelling in the testicles. Other symptoms can include a dull ache or heaviness in the scrotum (the sac of skin that contains the testicles).
Men with concerns about their testicles should see their doctor as soon as possible and discuss all the facts and symptoms. Early diagnosis increases the likelihood of successful treatment.
For more information, please see:
It is estimated that 3.2 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, and around 630,000 people are thought to be living with the condition without knowing it. These figures are projected to grow rapidly. Diabetes is more commonly found in men than women.
Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to break down glucose into energy because:
(a) the body is not producing insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the sugar in the blood (Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes)
(b) the body produces too little insulin, or the insulin fails to work properly (Type 2 diabetes)
10 per cent of people with diabetes in the UK have Type 1. This usually develops before the age of 40 and will often develop during the teenage years. As the cause of Type 1 diabetes is currently uncertain, it is not preventable. Sufferers will normally be required to inject insulin on a daily basis and must be careful to monitor their glucose levels.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common. 90 per cent of people with diabetes in the UK have Type 2 diabetes. You can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by managing your weight, eating well and being active, and more details on best ways to do that are available from the links below. If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, depending on severity of the condition, regular exercise and a healthy diet can sometimes be all that is needed to maintain good health. However, 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 should receive support from medical professionals and dieticians who can give dietary advice.
Common signs that you may have diabetes are feeling very thirsty, needing to go to the toilet more frequently than usual (especially at night), extreme tiredness and weight loss. Other symptoms for men include blurred vision, itching around the genitals, and slow healing of cuts and wounds. The problem with Type 2 diabetes is that the symptoms can begin as less pronounced than Type 1, so they can easily be missed.
For more information on diabetes, check out these sites:
JDRF (focuses on Type 1 diabetes)
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men over the UK. Specifically, about 1 in 6 men die from coronary heart disease every year, so it is vital for men to consider how they can keep their heart healthy.
There are a range of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms. Symptoms of the most common, coronary heart disease, can include chest pain, heart palpitations, and unusual breathlessness and a heart attack. While there are too many conditions to discuss in detail here, many of the risks are similar – smoking, having high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes all can increase the risks. As a result, key ways to keep your heart healthy include staying active, stopping smoking, eating a balanced diet, and keeping a healthy weight.
If you are concerned, you should see your doctor immediately. People over 40 can have a free NHS check to assess your risks in all countries of the UK except Wales (see British Heart Foundation for more information).
More information is available from these sources:
We all have a level of mental health throughout our lives, in the same way as we have a level of physical health. And like our physical health and wellbeing, our mental health can be better and worse at different points. You could be said to be mentally unwell if you are suffering from consistent anxiety. This does not necessarily mean that you have a ‘condition’, merely that you’re not on top form. In this way, mental health must be seen as a spectrum, from well (mental health) to chronically unwell (mental illness). It is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, but as many as 9.7% suffer both depression and anxiety, which makes this the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.
Too often men are loathe to seek help, for many reasons including perceptions of masculinity, not wanting to appear or feel ‘weak’, common stigma about mental health, or a lack of understanding of mental health overall. However, mental ill health is something we all experience at some point in our lives, and recognising that you may need help or support does not diminish you; in fact, this can be the first step to assertively (even manfully!) take control of your life and health.
There are too many types of mental health problems to outline here, but some of the most common are chronic depression or anxiety. Symptoms will be familiar to many people: depression may include feeling low, sleep problems, or a loss of appetite, concentration and energy. People with chronic anxiety (often termed generalised anxiety disorder) feel anxious most days, often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed, and can feel restless, worried, or have trouble concentrating or sleeping.
If you are feeling unwell, or concerned about your mental health, please use the information sources below, and consider seeing your doctor or a mental health specialist for the right support. Above all, talk about how you are feeling with people you trust and seek support; too often the stigma and misunderstanding which still surrounds mental health and illness means that people do not seek support from friends or family.
For further information and sources of support visit:
There are a range of diseases that can affect the lungs and respiratory system, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer (covered on this page). Lung cancer and emphysema/bronchitis are the 2nd and 3rd biggest causes of death in men over England and Wales, so keeping healthy lungs is clearly something men need to consider.
The risk factors for respiratory diseases can include asthma, long-term exposure to air pollution, fumes and dust from the environment or your workplace, but the most prominent risk factor is smoking. As such, stopping smoking if you are a smoker is the best way to safeguard your lungs.
Symptoms vary according to condition, but common signs of an issue can be breathlessness, a persistent cough, a tight chest, or producing more mucus or phlegm than usual. If you are exhibiting any of these symptoms, do see you doctor or seek more information from reputable sources.
You can find more information from these sources:
Stroke is the 4th biggest cause of death in men in the UK. Every year there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. This can damage your brain cells, leading to death, or long-term physical and/or mental effects if you survive. If a person survives a stroke, this can affect the way their body functions, how they feel, communicate or think.
Risks for stroke include having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. These risks can include the chances of blood clots forming and blocking the flow of blood to the brain. Strokes are also more prevalent in people over 65.
The most common signs that someone is having a stroke are well summarised by Public Health England’s FAST campaign below:
- FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
- SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
- TIME: If you see any of the first three signs, it’s to call 999.
If you are worried about your risk of stroke, as always, go to see your doctor, and seek out quality information. Good sources are below:
Disclaimer: The Blue Ribbon Foundation acts as a signposting service to specialist websites containing more detailed information on specific illnesses and conditions. We endeavour to ensure all information presented here is up-to-date and gathered from multiple respected sources. However, the data presented on this website is for general information purposes only. We make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability of this information in respect to specific concerns or questions you may have about your own health. If you are concerned about your own health, it is imperative you seek professional medical advice at the earliest opportunity.