Health checks men must start today : It’s more important than ever to safeguard your health, and fortunately there are a few health checks every man must do. Recent research from Bupa revealed:
- One in four (24%) men have never checked themselves for testicular cancer
- With nearly half (45%) admitting they ‘regularly forget’ to look for symptoms
- One in five men would also be embarrassed to discuss a potential symptom of testicular cancer with their doctor
To raise awareness of male cancer, Dr Luke James, Medical Director at Bupa UK Insurance shares the health checks all men should be aware of:
Bowel cancer screening
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. Bowel Cancer is the term given to cancer that begins in the large bowel (the colon) and is also known as colon cancer.
Symptoms of bowel cancer include changes in your bowel habits, blood in your poo (without symptoms of piles) and abdominal pain or discomfort. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to speak to your doctor.
It can be hard to remember all the warning signs so I always advise people to be aware of what’s normal for them, and to ‘check-CUP for cancer’, to check for a Change that is Unexplained or Persistent.
You can also check your bowel health with a colon health check which can help detect bowel cancer in its early stage when it is easier to treat and treatment is likely to be more successful. Regular screening can detect any possible problems before symptoms begin to show.
Check your testicles
Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer that only affects men – younger men between 15-49 are more likely to be diagnosed with it.
Commonly, symptoms of testicular cancer include a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicle.
Bupa’s ‘Check Your Tackle’ campaign revealed that one in four (24%) men have never checked themselves for testicular cancer with nearly half (45%) admitting they ‘regularly forget’ to look for symptoms. Common misconceptions are also holding men back from checking their testicles, with one in four (23%) men in their 30s thinking they’re ‘too young’ to get the disease, despite it being most prevalent at this age.
Get to know your body and what feels normal for you – you should check your testicles for lumps and swelling once a month.
To check your testicles, cup your hands under them to feel how heavy they are, they should feel roughly the same size and weight. Roll each testicle between your fingers and thumb to check for any lumps or swelling.
If you notice swelling, change in the size, lumps or pain whilst checking your testicles, it’s important you seek medical help without delay.
At Bupa we know that early diagnosis and access to treatment can have a positive impact on the outcome of testicular cancer and being vigilant for any lumps or changes can save lives. That’s why we developed Cancer Direct Access, our self-referral service, which allows customers to skip the GP and get access to specialist consultants straight away. Most lumps around the scrotum (testicles) are not cancerous, however it is important to get any lumps you notice checked to be on the safe side.
The prostate is a gland that sits under a man’s bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). The prostate is small – around the size of a walnut – and grows as you age.
When cells in the prostate grow in an uncontrollable way, this can cause prostate cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in males. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as you age, with men over 50 more likely to be diagnosed. Additionally, if you have a family history of prostate cancer, or if you are of a black-African ethnicity, you have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
There are usually no symptoms of prostate cancer during the early stages, that’s why it’s important to be aware of your risk factors and attend your prostate health checks.
Beyond the early stages, common prostate symptoms include needing to urinate more (often during the night), pain when urinating, feeling as though your bladder has not fully emptied after urinating and blood in your urine.
These symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer but it’s important to be aware of them and talk to a specialist nurse or your doctor if you experience them.
If your age or background puts you at greater risk of developing prostate cancer, or if you spot any symptoms, your GP will discuss prostate screening options with you.
During a prostate screening, your GP is likely to ask for a urine sample to check for infection, take a blood sample to test your prostate specific antigen (PSA testing) and examine your prostate with a digital rectum examination.
As the symptoms of prostate cancer often don’t develop until the cancer has grown or spread to other tissues in the body, prostate screening is key to detect early signs of the disease and save lives.
Lung health check
Around 70% of lung cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking. Lung cancer is more common as you age – 45% of people diagnosed in the UK are over 75. It is also a cancer that affects men more than women.
If you’re over between 55 and 75, registered with a GP and have been a smoker at some point during your life, you may be invited for a lung health check.
Lung health checks are carried out by a health professional. During your check, you’ll be asked about your history of smoking and discuss any additional lung cancer risks you may have. A spirometer is a device used to measure breath volume and speed. A spirometry test can be used to diagnose lung conditions like asthma and pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs).
If your results from a spirometry test show you are at higher risk of lung cancer you will be offered a lung cancer screening. A lung cancer screening uses a low dose CT (computerised tomography) scan to take a detailed picture of your lungs.
Whilst a lung health check can help to detect the signs of lung cancer earlier when treatment may be more successful, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer by stopping smoking.
Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing cancer in your lifetime. As well as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and not smoking, certain diagnostic tests can give you an overview of your health and your risk factors for any potential health conditions.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance created by your liver, mainly as a result of the fatty foods in your diet.
Whilst some cholesterol is important to keep the body functioning, having high cholesterol levels can be dangerous to your health and increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke.
Your blood cholesterol level can be measured with a simple blood test – the results can give you better insights of your potential health risks and take steps to improve your health for the future.
Blood sugar levels
There are various blood tests available to diagnose and monitor diabetes (a condition where your blood sugar levels are too high).
Blood tests check for the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood to determine if they’re within the normal ranges – some tests may require you to fast beforehand.