Everyone knows that you need to service your car—to do regular checks to make sure she’s performing to her highest standard, and generally to keep her clean and tidy—so why then do so many men not do the same for themselves?
Research shows that men are less likely than women to visit a GP, and when they do they are also less likely to disclose their symptoms. The gender gap in seeking health outcomes is so prevalent that the World Health Organisation has called for a global men’s health movement to bridge this gap.
Men need to be more proactive about seeking healthcare advice and support. We need to be teaching the next generation of boys that speaking up about health issues and talking with health professionals is the right, and expected thing, to do.
So what are some common ailments, issues and concerns that men should be looking out for?
Men are at higher risk of depression and anxiety. On average, one in eight men will suffer from depression and one in five from anxiety in their lifetime. Men are also at a far greater risk of suicide; annually 75% of all suicides are by men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 54—this is more than the national road toll^.
Gone are the days where men cannot talk about their feelings. Speak up and be heard; because there is always someone available to you who will listen. Visit your GP, or get in touch with one of the many organisations on offer (such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline). And importantly, keep an eye on your mates—ask him if he’s ok. It’s not always easy to start that conversation; but don’t be afraid to. For more information visit RUOK.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in Australia. It is more common in older men; however it can affect all men—meaning you need to keep yourself aware of the symptoms. Younger men with a family history of prostate cancer are also at higher risk. A simple blood test can be the start of a diagnosis; so make sure you speak with your GP.
Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in young men aged between 18 and 39. In the past 30 years, the rate of detection in Australia has grown by over 50%*. Self-examination could help with early detection; so make sure you know your body and see your GP if you notice any changes. Again, family history is important and your GP needs to know about it.
If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, Mater’s Cancer Care Centres offer a range of services and support. Link to: http://cancercare.mater.org.au/home/services/medical-oncology.aspx
Australia and New Zealand have the highest rate of melanoma cases in the world, with Queenslanders being diagnosed more than any other state or country in the world. Alarmingly in Australia, one person will die every six hours from melanoma**; however early detection can mean simple treatment that result in a complete cure.
Keep an eye on your moles and freckles. If you notice a change, even a slight one, see a doctor immediately. Make sure you also have annual check-ups at a specialist skin cancer clinic. These clinics use technology that assists with early detection of skin cancer and are able to perform a lot of procedures onsite to remove potential melanomas. These appointments are quick, easy and could save your life.
A cholesterol check is a simple blood test. We all have cholesterol in our bodies and need it to function; however too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke and clogging of your arteries. Keeping your cholesterol in check is easy; don’t smoke, limit your alcohol consumption, get active and exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight range, avoid high-fat foods and increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Cholesterol is very easy to manage—if you have any concerns, talk to your GP.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and kills one Australian every 26 minutes^^.
Risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, low fruit and vegetable intake, smoking and drinking alcohol and being inactive.
Research has also shown that you are at greater risk if you suffer from depression or do not have a supportive social network. Make sure you look at your mental health along with your heart.
Be heart smart—keep fit and active, maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle and be smoke-free. If heart disease runs in your family, make sure you discuss this with your GP. It’s never too late to implement a healthy lifestyle plan.
Dental health is overlooked all too often. Prevention is better than … fillings. Make sure you brush twice a day, floss and visit your dentist annually at a minimum. Gum disease is known as gingivitis and this occurs when bacteria accumulates between your teeth and your gums. Not only can this lead to permanent loss of your teeth, but if your immune system is weakened, bacteria can transfer from your mouth into your bloodstream and your body may develop more serious infections.
Dental disease can also be associated with diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. So make sure you look after your pearly whites!
Get yourself along to a GP fora health check; then make sure you make it part of your regular routine. Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask your GP anything—they are medical professionals and you won’t be the first person who has ever asked the question.
When you buy tickets in the Cars for Cancer lottery No. 73, funds raised go towards supporting both patient care and research at Mater. In the research space, a team of researchers at Mater Research—our world-class research institute—are currently working on developing a potential vaccine for prostate cancer. If successful, this research could make cancer treatment easier and more affordable for men around the world. You can read more about this incredible work here (link to https://www.materfoundation.org.au/your-impact/meet-the-people-youre-helping/potential-prostate-cancer-vaccine). They simply couldn’t perform this type of research without your support—and for that, we thank you.
^Beyond Blue. See https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/men
*Cancer Council Australia. See http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/testicular-cancer.html
**Melanoma Institute Australia. See https://www.melanoma.org.au/understanding-melanoma/melanoma-facts-and-statistics/
^^Heart Foundation. See https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/publications/Heart_disease-Factsheet_2016.pdf