This Movember Prioritise Your Health | Herbst BlueStar | Sanlam Financial Planners Pretoria

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This Movember, prioritise your health!

November is globally known as Movember to create a greater awareness around Men’s Health. This is a time geared towards highlighting the most prevalent health issues that affect men, in particular prostate and testicular cancer.

Men’s cancers are on the increase

With global prostate and testicular cancer figures on the rise, it’s important for men to take responsibility fand get checked more often. Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent cancer diagnosis in men, and the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, according to the American Cancer Society Journals.

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men in 46 countries, particularly in Sub‐Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. The National Cancer Registry estimates that one in 17 men in South Africa are at risk of prostate cancer.

Lucy Balona, Head of Marketing and Communications at CANSA, says the challenge is to get men tested. “It’s partly to do with myths and stigmas that are still deeply rooted among many cultures. It can also be a lack of education and access to medical facilities, as well as the fact that men may be fearful of getting tested, and not knowing what the outcome will be. Also, there is generally still a patriarchal society of men who feel that they need to be tough and strong, and that health may not be such a big priority.”

How to take care of yourself

Five self-care, healthcare tips for men to incorporate into their daily routines that will help with early detection

1. Men over 15 should start self-examining.
While prostate cancer tends to affect men aged 50 and up, testicular cancer is prevalent in young men between the ages of 15 and 39. The incidence rate is low (1 in 1 050), but it’s still imperative that all men start incorporating a monthly testicular self-examination into their grooming routines. Early detected incidents have a 95% recovery rate.

2. Go for regular check-ups.
Remember, prostate cancer is usually asymptomatic, so it’s vital to go for regular checks over the age of 40.

A non-invasive finger prick or blood test can detect if the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels – a protein produced by prostate tissue that can be malignant or benign – are raised. This shows the need for further tests.

Men age 40 and up, especially with family histories of prostate cancer, should go for regular PSA testing.

High-risk individuals should get PSA tests annually, and all men aged 50 and up should get tested bi-annually. From age 50 and up, it’s advised that men get digital rectal exams annually, which are invasive but cause minimal discomfort.

3. Don’t forego help because you’re worried about treatments.
The radiation, surgery and hormone therapies used to treat prostate and bladder cancer may potentially cause erectile dysfunction (ED), which can put men off seeking help. However, ED doesn’t happen to everyone and it’s often only temporary, plus there are multiple therapies and aids that can be used to improve this so that it doesn’t impact a man’s life.

4. Don’t ignore changes. Pay attention to any change in bowel habit, rectal bleeding or unintentional weight loss – early medical advice is mandatory and can influence the outcome of possible gastrointestinal malignancy.

5. Talk to someone. If you are diagnosed, or currently dealing with one of these health issues, it’s important that you don’t isolate yourself. Talk to someone – a friend, family, a colleague – share what you are going through. If you prefer a more neutral sounding board, there are many support groups that can be accessed through za.movember.com here. If you need immediate assistance, call Lifeline on 0861 322 322.

It is also a good idea to talk to your financial planner to ensure you have adequate risk cover in place to protect you against any unforeseen expenses and loss of income should you be diagnosed with cancer.

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