Cancer death rates in the UK are more than a third higher in men than in women, a new report says.
The stark contrast between the sexes is revealed in latest survival figures from 2010.
In that year, 202 men per 100,000 died from cancer compared with 147 women per 100,000 - a 35% difference.
When gender-specific diseases, such as prostate and breast cancer, were excluded, men were 67% more likely to die.
A lump or swelling anywhere on your body needs checking out
AXA’s research found that 79% of people were able to correctly identify breast lumps as a potential indicator of cancer. But a lump or swelling in any part of the body, including the armpit, neck, abdomen, groin or chest area, is worth having checked by a doctor.
Talk about your toilet habits
Diarrhoea or changes in bowel habits are most likely to be caused by a stomach bug or eating something that disagrees with you. But if you’re noticing changes that have lasted more than a few days, for example if your bowel movements are looser for three weeks or more, or you notice any blood when you’ve been to the toilet, then make an appointment to get it checked out.
Sores and ulcers should disappear quickly – investigate them if they don’t
A lot of people get mouth ulcers when their immune system is low or they’re stressed. Generally they’re nothing to worry about and, as the lining of the mouth regenerates itself every couple of weeks, shouldn’t last long. But any ulcer that hasn’t healed after three weeks merits attention from your doctor or dentist. The same goes for any sore or spot that lasts for several weeks without healing – get it checked by a doctor.
Difficult passing urine – not just an inevitable consequence of age
Many men find it more difficult to pass urine as they get older, needing to go more often or urgently or being unable to go when they need to. These problems are usually caused by an enlarged prostate, which is a common condition that is not in itself cause for concern. But occasionally these symptoms can be a sign of prostate cancer – either way, men experiencing these symptoms should see their GP. Similarly, while urinary tract infections are the most likely cause of women having pain or difficulty passing urine, this should pass relatively quickly. If it doesn’t, then any sudden urges to pass urine or the need to go more often should be discussed with your doctor.
Lost weight without dieting?
It’s natural for most people’s weight to fluctuate over time. But if you haven’t instigated any changes in your diet or exercise regime and have obviously lost weight, then talk to your doctor. And if you’re experiencing heavy night sweats you should seek medical advice – these don’t always have a sinister cause, and can be brought about by certain infections or medications, but they’re worth checking.
Coughing up blood needs to be checked out
If you’ve coughed up any blood, you should see your doctor, regardless of the amount of blood or frequency. It can be a sign of lung cancer, so needs to be checked out.
Coughs and sore throats
Most of us will experience coughs or croaky voices at some point, normally when we’ve had a cold. But as with many other changes to your body, anything that hasn’t gone away after three weeks or so should be investigated.
Educate yourself on what to look out for
AXA’s research found women were more likely than men to identify key cancer warning signs, including breast lumps, changes in bowel habits and irregular moles. But for both men and women, ensuring you’re aware of symptoms to keep an eye out for is important. Knowledge is power: understanding what you’re looking for means you can any changes checked out quickly.
Know your own body
AXA’s research found only 6% of men and 3% of women check their bodies daily for anything unusual. But understanding what’s normal for your own body is essential if you’re to spot when anything has changed. If you do notice changes that are persisting for a long time, or causing you pain and discomfort, then see your GP.
Don’t put off seeing the doctor!
A sizeable 61% of people AXA spoke to admitted they’d delayed seeing their doctor when they spotted changes that could be potential flags for cancer. But early detection of any problems can make a huge difference if any treatment is then needed. Similarly, if changes are harmless your doctor will be able to reassure you. Overall, the sooner you go to see your GP, the better.
Liver cancer death rates were twice as high in men, who also faced triple the risk of being killed by oesophageal cancer.
The difference may partly be explained by men developing hard-to-treat cancers such as those affecting the bladder, oesophagus and liver, according to the charity Cancer Research UK which produced the figures.
Each year around 82,500 men in the UK lose their lives to cancer, making it the leading cause of death in the male population.
The findings were presented on Tuesday at the Men's Health Forum conference in London.
Professor Alan White, from Leeds Metropolitan University, chairman of the Forum and co-author of the report, said: "The impact cancer has on younger men is often overlooked, but these are men whose life is cut too short by the disease.
"Our report highlights just how big a problem cancer is and highlights the need to understand the reasons why men are more likely to die of cancer. It's crucial that the NHS leads the way in taking a more proactive approach to prevent men both getting and dying from cancer prematurely.
"The Men's Health Forum is campaigning for a better explanation for these differences and more male-focused cancer prevention work so that fewer men are struck down by cancer."
A second report, presented at the same meeting by Cancer Research UK, showed that smoking remains the largest preventable cause of cancer in men, leading to 36,500 cases of new disease each year.
After smoking, being overweight, drinking alcohol and poor diet are the most important cancer risk factors for men.
Catherine Thomson, Cancer Research UK's head of statistics and an author of both reports, said: "Our work highlights the cancer toll for men across the UK. This needs action and Cancer Research UK is supporting a range of research into men's cancers.
"We're one of the UK's largest funders of research into prostate and testicular cancers and this work is leading to new and better treatments.
"Men can help stack the odds of avoiding cancer in their favour by quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables."
Also on HuffPost UK Lifestyle:
New Advice On Prostate Cancer Screening
This year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/05/21/153234671/all-routine-psa-tests-for-prostate-cancer-should-end-task-force-says">recommended <em>against</em> routine prostate cancer screening</a> for men of all ages, noting its small benefits compared to the harms, published in the <em>Annals of Internal Medicine</em>. "We think the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/05/21/153234671/all-routine-psa-tests-for-prostate-cancer-should-end-task-force-says">benefit is very small</a>," Dr. Michael LeFevre, a member of the task force, told NPR's Shots blog. "Our range is between zero and one prostate cancer death avoided for every thousand men screened," which is minuscule compared to lives saved for screenings for conditions like colorectal cancer. A study published at the beginning of the year in the <em>Journal of the National Cancer Institute</em> seemed to back up the recommendations, noting that routine prostate cancer screening didn't seem to make a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/06/prostate-cancer-screening-psa-test-deaths-men_n_1190558.html">difference in the risk of dying from prostate cancer</a>, Reuters reported. However, the American Society of Clinical Oncology issued advice after the USPSTF's recommendation, saying that whether a man gets routine prostate cancer screening should <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/prostate-cancer-screening-test-man-life-expectancy_n_1679499.html">depend on his life expectancy</a>. For example, men who aren't expected to live more than another 10 years should be discouraged from PSA testing, the Associated Press reported.
PSA Testing Could Mean Fewer Cases Of Deadly Prostate Cancer
To add more to the research on prostate cancer screening, a study in the journal <em>Cancer</em> showed that routine PSA testing is linked with 17,000 fewer cases of the deadliest form of prostate cancer. "By not <a href="http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20120730/study-psa-testing-cuts-worst-prostate-cancers">using PSA tests</a> in the vast majority of men, you have to accept you are going to increase very serious metastatic disease threefold," study researcher Dr. Edward Messing, M.D., the chief of urology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told WebMD. Specifically, researchers calculated that without routine prostate cancer screenings through PSA testing, 25,000 men would have been diagnosed with <a href="http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20120730/study-psa-testing-cuts-worst-prostate-cancers">metastatic prostate cancer</a> (a deadly form of prostate cancer where it has spread beyond the prostate to elsewhere in the body) in 2008, compared with the 8,000 who were actually diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer that year, WebMD reported.
Working The Night Shift Could Raise Your Risk
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/night-shift-prostate-cancer-health_n_2003392.html">Working the night shift</a> is associated with a 2.77-times increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a study in the <em>American Journal of Epidemiology</em>. The study, conducted by Canadian researchers included 3,137 men with cancer and 512 men without cancer. The researchers also found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/25/night-shift-prostate-cancer-health_n_2003392.html">working the night shift</a> raised the risk of lung, colon, bladder, rectal and pancreatic cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Surgery May Not Be The Best Option For Everyone With Prostate Cancer
Surgery may not always be the best option for men whose prostate cancer is detected with an elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level, according to a study in the <em>New England Journal of Medicine</em>. For men with early prostate cancer who received a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ProstateCancer/surgery-rarely-best-prostate-cancer-study-suggests/story?id=16805902#.UJrg9m_A_kh">radical prostatectomy</a> (prostate-removal surgery), 47 percent died after 12 years, while 49.9 percent of men who just underwent observation died after 12 years, ABC News reported. Plus 81 percent of men who underwent the radical prostatectomy <a href="http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20120718/prostate-cancer-surgery-may-not-always-up-survival">experienced erectile dysfunction</a> in the two years following, and urinary incontinence plagued 17 percent of the men, WebMD reported. However, ABC News did note that men whose <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/ProstateCancer/surgery-rarely-best-prostate-cancer-study-suggests/story?id=16805902#.UJrg9m_A_kh">PSA scores were extremely high</a> -- above 10 -- benefited from receiving surgery, indicating that the study may suggest rather <em>which</em> men may benefit most from receiving a radical prostatectomy for their prostate cancer.
Aspirin Could Help Prostate Cancer Patients Live Longer
Prostate cancer patients who <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/health/research/regular-aspirin-use-may-aid-prostate-cancer-recovery-study-finds.html">take aspirin</a> could cut their risk of dying from the disease, Harvard researchers reported this year. <em>The New York Times</em> reported on the study, published in the <em>Journal of Clinical Oncology</em>, which showed that taking aspirin cut in half the risk of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/health/research/regular-aspirin-use-may-aid-prostate-cancer-recovery-study-finds.html">dying of prostate cancer</a> over a decade -- 8 percent of aspirin-nontakers died, compared with 3 percent of aspirin-takers.
Circumcision Could Affect Risk
Circumcision -- or the removal of a man's foreskin before he has sex for the first time -- is linked with a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/circumcision-prostrate-cancer_n_1339047.html">lower risk of developing prostate cancer</a>, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center scientists found this year. The findings, published in the journal <em>Cancer</em>, shows that prostate cancer risk for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/circumcision-prostrate-cancer_n_1339047.html">men who are circumcised</a> before the first time they have sex is 15 percent lower, compared with uncircumcised men. While Dr. Andrew Freedman, who is on the American Academy of Pediatrics' circumcision task force but was not involved in the study, found the findings thought-provoking, he told HuffPost in an earlier article that "this kind of epidemiological research -- how A affects B, and B affects C -- is very difficult to do and makes it very difficult to account for confounding variables."
Pan-Fried Meat Could Raise Risk
Including <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/pan-fried-meat-cancer-prostate-_n_1798970.html">pan-fried meat</a> in your weekly meal rotations is linked with a higher risk of prostate cancer, University of Southern California researchers found. Specifically, men who eat one-and-a-half servings of red meat that's been pan-fried each week have a 30 percent <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/pan-fried-meat-cancer-prostate-_n_1798970.html">increased risk of advanced prostate cancer</a>. And men who eat two-and-a-half servings of the food have a 40 percent increased risk. Hamburger meat in particular -- compared with a red meat like steak -- seemed linked with the increased risk, according to the <em>Carcinogenesis</em> study. And while not a red meat, pan-fried poultry also seemed linked with the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/pan-fried-meat-cancer-prostate-_n_1798970.html">increased prostate cancer risk</a> (while <em>baked</em> poultry was associated with a lower prostate cancer risk).
Genetic 'Signatures' Could Predict Aggressive Disease
Genes could hold a clue to who will go on to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/prostate-cancer-genetic-signatures-aggressive-tumors_n_1949724.html">develop aggressive prostate cancer</a>, researchers found this year. Reuters reported on the <em>Lancet Oncology</em> study, showing aggressive tumors might be able to be predicted by two <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/prostate-cancer-genetic-signatures-aggressive-tumors_n_1949724.html">genetic "signatures</a>": <blockquote>Researchers in Britain and the United States found that by reading the patterns of genes switched on and off in blood cells, they could accurately detect which advanced prostate cancer patients had the worst survival rates.</blockquote>
Blood Pressure Could Affect Risk Of Dying From Prostate Cancer
The risk of dying from prostate cancer is higher if you also<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/23/blood-pressure-prostate-cancer-deaths_n_2004582.html?just_reloaded=1"> have high blood pressure</a>, European researchers found. Specifically, hypertension was linked with a 62 percent increased risk of dying for people with prostate cancer. "When we looked to see if the metabolic factors are related to an increased risk of getting or dying from prostate cancer we found a relationship with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/23/blood-pressure-prostate-cancer-deaths_n_2004582.html?just_reloaded=1">death from the disease and high blood pressure</a>," study researcher Christel Haggstrom, of Umea University, told HuffPost UK. "There was also a link to high BMI but blood pressure had the strongest association to increased risk. The results for BMI are in line with previous findings in large studies."
Green Tea Is Good
Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research this year showed that drinking green tea could <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-10/aafc-gtr101112.php">help ward off inflammation</a> in men with prostate cancer who are about to undergo prostate-removal surgery. "Our study showed that <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-10/aafc-gtr101112.php">drinking six cups of green tea</a> affected biomarkers in prostate tissue at the time of surgery," study researcher Susanne M. Henning, Ph.D., R.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, said in a statement. "This research offers new insights into the mechanisms by which green tea consumption may reduce the risk for prostate cancer by opposing processes such as inflammation, which are associated with prostate cancer growth."
Living Longer With Prostate Cancer
In this medical video learn more about the treatments that are enabling men to live longer with prostate cancer.