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More men than women in Victoria are living with undetected cancer

Tuesday 14 June, 2022

TWO in three missed cancer diagnoses in Victoria are men.

The worrying new statistic has been released today during Men’s Health Week, 13-19 June, by the Victorian Cancer Registry (VCR) that collects the world’s most up-to-date cancer incidence and mortality information.

Professor Sue Evans, Director of the VCR, said that the missed diagnoses are likely due to men not presenting to their GP for a general health check or for a screening appointment due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“Our modelling data shows that the decline in cancer incidence reported in 2020 has continued into 2021 and 2022, and that two out of the three cancer cases we are missing belong to men," Sue said.

The VCR can also reveal that in 2020 more men are diagnosed with cancer than women.

Men are diagnosed at a rate of 123 males for every 100 females.

This is largely due to the high rates of prostate cancer in men and the higher rates of lung cancer in men than women.

52-year-old Geoff Lewellin of Yarra Junction says he wouldn’t be alive if he hadn’t paid a visit to his local GP after he was struggling to swallow.

“I had trouble swallowing food. Within a week, it hadn’t improved so I went to the GP, and they decided to send me for a gastroscopy, and they found a tumour in my oesophagus that had almost closed my throat over,” Geoff said.

“It was stage three oesophageal cancer.”

Geoff underwent weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatment in 2019. He also underwent an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy, an extremely high-risk procedure which involved a partial removal of his oesophagus and stomach, in which they gave him a 30 per cent chance of survival.

Geoff is now in remission.

“I’m feeling really good now,” Geoff said.

“They doctors said to me had I not taken notice of what my body was telling me, and if I didn’t go to the doctor as early as I did, I may not be alive today.”

Geoff also encouraged men to listen to their bodies: “Your body will tell you if there’s something not right. Listen to it.”

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said that it was imperative that all Victorians prioritised their health.

“It doesn’t have to be Men’s Health Week to start thinking about your health,” Todd said.

“We should always be thinking about taking steps to reduce your risk of developing cancer, including quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy body weight, being SunSmart, and talking to your GP about symptoms.”

Todd encouraged men to contact our cancer nurses on 13 11 20, if they had any cancer-related questions.

In the last twelve months, only 23 per cent of people calling 13 11 20 have identified as male.

“Our experienced cancer nurses are here to help answer any cancer-related questions you might have, including any symptoms you may be concerned about, and can help you find a local HP if you don’t have one,” Todd said.

“A visit to your GP – or a call to 13 11 20 – could be lifesaving.”