Next week marks the start of Blue September which aims to put the fun factor into delivering a serious message about men facing up to cancer.
Blue September UK is a major new cancer campaign which will tackle all the cancers that affect men by raising awareness, improving prevention and symptom knowledge, and encouraging men to seek help sooner. It is urgently needed because men are at significantly greater risk of developing and dying from cancer than women.
Every year around 8,000 men living in the West Midlands are diagnosed with either prostate, lung or bowel cancer. Men are 60% more likely to develop one of the cancers that affect both sexes (e.g. lung, bowel, stomach) and 70% more likely to die.
Cancer is the toughest fight many people will ever face, and the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience makes it even harder. However you don’t have to go through it alone. Your family and friends can be a powerful support system and talking to others who are in the same situation as you can be a good way to learn about your condition. Reading about the symptoms and treatments available to treat cancer will also help you gain a better understanding.
So what can you do to minimise the risk of developing cancer? Sharon West, specialist bowel cancer screening practitioner at the Trust, explains: “Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as whole grains can help reduce your risk of getting cancer.
“Avoid having a high sugar diet. Eating high sugar foods regularly can not only lead to you having bowel cancer, you could also develop heart disease.
“Those who exercise for at least 150 minutes a week will have a lower risk of developing bowel and other cancers. Making changes to your diet and an increase in physical activities will help you keep your weight under control.
“Did you know smoking can damage your heart and blood circulation? Giving up smoking will help reduce your risk of developing cancer.”
Unexplained weight loss, changes in bowel habits such as persistent bloating and blood in your stools, loss of appetite as well as unusual growths or lumps are common symptoms of cancer, although symptoms will vary between the different types of cancer.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then it’s worth discussing this with your GP. If there are any concerns, your GP can arrange appropriate tests as necessary.
If you are aged between 60 and 70, you will automatically be invited to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme every two years. Also if you are over 70, you can request a screening kit by calling the free-phone helpline on 0800 707 6060. For more information, please visit the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes website at www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk.