Cancer Council Victoria urges men to check under the hood

Thursday 5 June, 2014

 

  • 16,075 men diagnosed with cancer in Victoria in 2012 compared to 13,312 women
  • 5,974 men died from cancer in Victoria in 2012 compared to 4,806 women
  • Deaths from lung (1,161), bowel (735) and melanoma (210)

 

Cancer Council Victoria is asking men to take steps to reduce their cancer risk during Men’s Health Week (9-15 June), such as screening for bowel cancer, quitting smoking and checking their skin for any changing spots that could be skin cancer.

Director of Cancer Council Victoria’s Prevention Division, Craig Sinclair, said statistics showed men were more likely to be diagnosed and die from cancer in Victoria.

“That’s why we are encouraging men to check under the hood during Men’s Health Week. You take the time to check your car so why don’t you take the time to get your body checked out. We know early detection and screening can save lives, particularly when it comes to common cancer such as bowel and skin cancer.”

“One in three cancers are lifestyle related and therefore, preventable. Research shows drinking, smoking, being overweight, a lack of exercise and not being SunSmart, all heighten the risk of cancer. So as well as screening, we’re asking blokes to think about how their lifestyle is affecting their health and make changes to prevent cancer.”

Find out more at CutYourCancerRisk.org.au

Beat bowel cancer

Mr Sinclair said a simple-at home bowel screening test called a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) was one of the best ways to find the signs of bowel cancer in its early stages for men aged 50 and older. Cancer Council recommends screening using a FOBT every two years from this age.

“In its early stages, bowel cancer often has no visible symptoms but it’s the second biggest cancer killer. 90% of cases could be cured if found early enough so it’s so important to do the test.”

All Australians turning 50, 55, 60 and 65 will receive a free FOBT in the mail as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. Yet Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows that only one third of Victorians take advantage of this free screening program.

"It's very worrying that the majority of Victorians aged 50 and over are not doing this simple, life-saving test. Perhaps it's because they feel healthy or do not understand what the test involves, or they may simply believe bower cancer won't happen to them. The fact is, if you are 50 or over, you are at higher risk of bowel cancer.”

Those over 50 and not yet eligible for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program can order an FOBT online at www.cancervic.org.au/boweltest or by calling Cancer Council on 13 11 20. FOBTs are $32.50. Some pharmacies also sell FOBTs and they may be available through some health care funds.

Detect skin cancer and maintain Vitamin D levels

Studies show 95% of skin cancers can be treated successfully if found early. Yet men aged 45 and over are more likely than anyone else to die from skin cancer in Australia.

“Sun protection and early detection matters at any age. It's important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you so changes will be quickly noticed. If you notice anything unusual, including any change in shape, colour or size of a spot, or the development of a spot, visit your doctor,” said Mr Sinclair.

“During the winter months, SunSmart recommends Victorians shelve their summer hats and sunscreen and get some midday sun to help with their vitamin D levels, essential for healthy bones and muscles. Most people typically have lower vitamin D levels during winter than summer. During these months in Victoria sun protection is not required unless you are near highly reflective surfaces such as snow; if you are outside for extended periods or if UV levels reach 3 and above."

Find out more at sunsmart.com.au.

Quit smoking

Mr Sinclair said one in five cancer deaths in Victoria was attributable to smoking.

“88% of lung cancer deaths in men are also caused by smoking and lung cancer is Victoria’s number one cancer killer. So much cancer suffering could be prevented if men quit smoking and although the earlier the better, it’s never too late to quit,” he said.

“So we encourage men to speak to their doctor about quitting smoking or call the Quitline on 13 78 48. Research has shown smokers who use the Quitline are more than twice as likely to quit smoking successfully.”

Find out more at www.quit.org.au.