Male Health Information

Bladder Cancer

  • Each year about 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer.
  • Of these, 8 out of 10 (80%) are diagnosed with early bladder cancer.
  • Smoking is one of the most common causes of bladder cancer.
  • Bladder cancer becomes more common as people get older

Symptoms are blood in the urine, the need to pass urine more often and occasionally pain in the tummy or lower back.

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Breast Cancer

Many people are unaware that men can develop breast cancer because they do not think of men as having breasts. In fact, both men and women have breast tissue. Currently there are around 50,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, of which more than 370 are men.  It most often occurs in men over 65 years of age and, as with women, a lump in the breast is usually the first sign of trouble. You may need surgery to remove the tumour combined with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Symptoms may include a lump around the nipple or any other area of the breast, nipple discharge (may be bloodstained), tender or drawn in nipple, ulceration or swelling of the breast and swelling under the arm.

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms or have noticed changes in your body, do not wait – see your GP. Even if there is nothing wrong, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

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In the UK some 4.26% (2,800,000) of the population have diabetes although this varies regionally and these figures are projected to grow rapidly. Currently over 400 people a day are being diagnosed with diabetes and men are about one third more likely to get diabetes than women.

Most health experts agree that the UK is facing a huge increase in the number of people with diabetes. Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 1.4 million to 2.8 million. By 2025 it is estimated that over four million people will have diabetes.  Most of these cases will be Type 2 diabetes, because of our ageing population and rapidly rising numbers of overweight and obese people.

A new report published in April 2012 in the journal Diabetic Medicine has projected that the NHS’s annual spending on diabetes in the UK will increase from £9.8 billion to £16.9 billion over the next 25 years, a rise that means the NHS would be spending 17% of its entire budget on the condition.   The Impact Diabetes report also suggests that the cost of treating diabetes complications is expected to almost double from the current total of £7.7 billion to £13.5 billion by 2035/6.

Barbara Young the chief executive of Diabetes UK said it was a “national disgrace” that only half of people with diabetes received the recommended standards of care in 2009/10.  Not a single primary care trust delivered the nine basic care processes which reduce the risk of diabetes related complications such as blindness, amputation or kidney disease, it was claimed.  The national audit office  stated that only six per cent of sufferers received the recommended levels of care in some regions. Up to 24,000 people die each year form avoidable causes relating to diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes – Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable with current knowledge.  Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly, and the disease may present as an acute condition.

Type 2 diabetes – Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin (insulin resistance). It accounts for 90% of people with diabetes around the world and is largely preventable. Excess body weight – especially around the waist, physical inactivity and a high intake of saturated fatty acids all independently increase the risk of insulin resistance. This risk is heightened even with modest weight increases within the normal range (Body Mass Index under 25). Development of type 2 diabetes has also been associated with other factors, such as ethnic group, experiences and influences in early life, and socio-economic factors.  Symptoms may be similar to those of type 1 diabetes, but are often less marked. As a result, the disease may be diagnosed several years after onset, once complications have already arisen.

Type 2 diabetes was until recently seen as a disease of middle-aged and elderly people, but its frequency has escalated in all age groups and the condition is now increasingly seen in adolescence and childhood.  Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) are intermediate conditions in the transition between normality and diabetes. People with IGT or IFG are at high risk of progressing to type 2 diabetes, although this is not inevitable.


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.

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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. In the United Kingdom, around 39,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and it is estimated that, at any one time, there are 65,000 people living with lung cancer.  Interestingly enough smokers from all classes have a much higher RISK of premature death than the poorest non-smokers.

It is known that smokers and ex-smokers have a particularly high risk of developing the disease: although most lung cancers are related to smoking, 10% of people with lung cancer have never smoked.  However, there are other factors that increase the risk of developing lung cancer disease, for example, exposure to chemicals found in the workplace or environment, such as: asbestos, radon, diesel exhaust fumes, synthetic fibres and many others.

Look out for a cough that doesn’t go away, a long standing cough gets worse, unexplained breathlessness, chest infections, coughing blood, unexplained weight loss, chest and/or shoulder pains, an unexplained tiredness or lack of energy, a hoarse voice.

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people worldwide each year.  One person dies every six seconds from a tobacco related illness.  This accounts for 1 in 10 adult deaths globally.  Latest UK information shows that up to 50% of current users will eventually die of a tobacco related disease.

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Mental Health

Mental health for men is being called a silent crisis, a sleeper issue that has crept into the minds of millions. At the heart of the problem are new and emerging pressures for men, stemming from changes in societal dynamics at work, and in family and personal life.

While the concept of mental health for men is nothing new, comparatively, gender-specific health awareness and research have focused predominately on women. Women have the tendency to band together, and they are more vocal and expressive about emotions and other aspects of their mental health. As a result, women seek health care in much greater proportion than men. Men, on the other hand, traditionally shy away from the health-care system, and we are only now starting to understand why that is.

Men tend to view partners and friends as primary health sources. When they do reach a physician, men tend to focus more on physical problems, and are less likely to discuss deeper emotional issues — particularly if the physician is female. Perhaps most influential are perceptions around male masculinity. As it is seen unmanly to discuss weakness, mental issues become masked and often go undiagnosed.  Recognising these barriers is only the first step to overcoming illnesses that might be weighing on a man’s mind. Greater understanding of new and emerging mental illnesses for men is equally as important, and hopefully the following will help to raise your awareness.

Depression and suicide

Researchers estimate that at least 6 million men suffer from depression each year in the United States. While this number is larger in women, men are almost four times more likely to suffer the ultimate consequence of their depression: suicide. Even though women attempt more suicides each year, men are more successful, in part because the methods employed by men are more lethal.  Sadly, the above statistics make one point clear: Depression in men is different from women. The question is why?  Looking back to those barriers introduced above, similarities are seen when it comes to depression. Men are simply not seeking proper treatment. The issue is confounded because men’s depressive symptoms are not being readily recognised by physicians and by men themselves. Men are more willing to acknowledge physical symptoms — fatigue, headaches, irritability, loss of interest in work, lowered sexual drive, and sleep disturbances — rather than emotional feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, and excessive guilt. It is these physical symptoms, and other signs such as alcohol or drug dependence, that require greater recognition by men as possibly pointing toward an underlying illness of depression.

If you are among the millions of men being plagued by the symptoms described above, it is important to seek help promptly, and there are numerous resource readily available online. While the cause of your depression may not be immediately clear, on account of the numerous factors at potential blame — specific distressing life events, biochemical imbalances in the brain or certain psychological factors — what is clear is that you’re not alone and should never feel ashamed. Depression is common, and most cases are entirely treatable.

The Facts:

  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men (29% compared to 17%).This could be because, when asked, women are more likely to report symptoms of common mental health problems. (Better Or Worse: A Longitudinal Study Of The Mental Health Of Adults In Great Britain, National Statistics, 2003)
  • Depression is more common in women than men. 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression at some time, compared to 1 in 10 men. The reasons for this are unclear, but are thought to be due to both social and biological factors. It has also been suggested that depression in men may have been under diagnosed because they present to their GP with different symptoms.  (National Institute For Clinical Excellence, 2003)
  • Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Of people with phobias or OCD, about 60% are female.  (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)
  • Men are more likely than women to have an alcohol or drug problem. 67% of British people who consume alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels, and 80% of those dependent on alcohol are male. Almost three quarters of people dependent on cannabis and 69% of those dependent on other illegal drugs are male. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001)

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Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually give rise to any symptoms or signs in the early stages. This is the main reason it can be so difficult to detect and diagnose. As the cancer grows the symptoms it causes will depend on the type of pancreatic cancer and where it is in the pancreas.

Any symptoms people do have can be quite vague and may come and go at first. An example is abdominal pain, which may start off as occasional discomfort before becoming more painful and more frequent. The symptoms can also be a sign of other more common, less serious illnesses. This means that people may end up seeing their GP several times or being sent for a number of different tests before pancreatic cancer is even considered. Symptoms can be abdominal pain, jaundice, weight loss and possibly bowel problems and nausea and vomiting.

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Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. There are about 36,000 new cases every year in the UK – yes, 36,000.  Possible symptoms include a weak or reduced urine flow; a need to urinate frequently; difficulty or pain when passing urine; pain in the testicles; blood in the urine or semen. Some research shows certain foods may increase or decrease the risk, but the evidence is not strong enough to make specific recommendations.

If you are worried YOU MUST make a GP appointment and talk about every aspect of your symptoms. Do not put it off – early detection can save lives!

For in-depth online information about prostate cancer, visit the website of The Prostate Cancer Charity at

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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.


Penile Cancer

There are less than 500 cases of penile cancer in the UK each year and it usually occurs in older people – the majority of men diagnosed are over the age of 60.

Early signs that a cancer may be developing include a growth or sore that does not heal within four weeks and bleeding either from the penis itself or from under the foreskin. A foul-smelling discharge, rash, change in colour or difficulty drawing back the foreskin can also signal the onset so if you notice any changes do report them to your doctor.  Caught in the early stages, minor surgery may solve the problem but further surgical procedures combined with radio or chemotherapy may also be necessary.

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.

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.

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Stomach Cancer

The exact reasons why you may develop stomach cancer aren’t fully understood at present. However, certain factors may increase your risk – these are listed below.

  • Age. Stomach cancer is most common in people aged 55 and over.
  • Gender. Men are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer as women.
  • Helicobacter pylori. This is a bacterium that causes infection of your stomach and duodenum, which can double your risk of stomach cancer.
  • Acid reflux, also known as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
  • Pernicious anaemia. This is a condition where your body doesn’t absorb enough vitamin B12 from your diet.
  • Family history. You’re more likely to get stomach cancer if your brother, sister or one of your parents has had it.
  • Diet. Too much salt, red meat and foods that are smoked or that contain preservatives may increase your risk of stomach cancer.
  • Smoking and drinking too much alcohol.Being overweight.

The symptoms of stomach cancer can include indigestion, heartburn and burping, feeling bloated, a loss of appetite, persistent stomach pain and feeling sick or vomiting

As the cancer grows, other symptoms you may have include weight loss, vomiting blood, blood in your faeces (which can look black), tiredness and anaemia (when you have too few red blood cells or not enough haemoglobin in your blood), caused by blood loss and a swelling or lump in your stomach area

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