A Blue-ming Good Way of Promoting Men’s Health

Proudly supported by The Urology Foundation, Blue September is a fun way of delivering a serious message about ‘facing up to cancer in men’. The charity is working to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancers and diseases of the prostate, bladder, and kidneys through the development and support of medical education and sponsorship of research. This remarkable awareness campaign has brought together thousands of people worldwide to help raise awareness of men’s health.

How can you get involved with EMJ?

We are pleased to announce that we are conducting a fantastic collaboration with Dr Jim Duthie in honour of Blue September. As our readers, you now have the exciting opportunity to participate in our second ‘Ask the Expert’ session with another top professional in the industry. To get involved in the session please follow these steps:

  • We will be collecting your questions leading up to and during Blue September via our social media platforms using the hashtag #EMJExpert. If you have any burning questions on men’s health and/or the field of urology as a whole, then please submit your queries to us by the 18th September 2015. Dr Jim Duthie will then answer all of your thought-provoking questions in an exclusive EMJ blog post.
  • If you do not have access to any social media accounts then do not fret, just drop us an email at circulation@emjreviews.com with the subject title ‘Ask the Expert – Dr Jim Duthie’.

Who is Dr Jim Duthie?

Dr Jim Duthie is a urological surgeon specialising in prostate cancer treatment. Jim completed fellowship training in robotic surgery and complex pelvic oncology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. He has a particular interest in medical communication, which led him to create www.iatoria.co.nz. Along with being a blogger for both the British Journal of Urology International and the European Medical Journal, and completing a degree in psychology, Jim has developed prostate cancer-related smartphone apps and a number of online resources for patients. Jim’s interest in communication has seen him involved in social media as a consultant for a hospital and a prostate cancer charity. Jim’s goal is to make people better through better communication, and he is excited to be getting involved with the Blue September initiative.

A few facts on cancer and how it can effect men

Men develop cancer more often than women, particularly bladder, stomach, and kidney cancers, along with sex-specific cancers including prostate, testicular, and penile cancers. The most common cancers in men are prostate, lung, colorectal (bowel), and bladder cancers.1,2 Increasing age is the most important non-modifiable risk factor for cancer, but while cancer rates are increasing due to our increased life expectancy, death rates from cancer are falling due to better tools for detection and treatment.

Risk factors

When it comes to risk factors for cancer, there are those that are ‘non-modifiable’, and those that can be reduced or ‘modified’. Increasing age and the genes you inherit from your parents are examples of non-modifiable risk factors; there is nothing that you can do to change them. Modifiable risk factors include your diet, weight, and time spent exercising, along with exposure to carcinogens such as tobacco.

Lung cancer

Almost all lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Quitting smoking at any age reduces the risk of cancer, along with myriad other health benefits. Other risk factors include exposure to asbestos, pollution, and radiation. Symptoms to watch for include a cough that won’t go away, coughing up blood, wheezing, hoarseness of the voice, shortness of breath, and chest pain.3

Colorectal cancer

Although there is an increased risk of bowel cancer if you have a family history of the disease, most bowel cancers occur in people without such a history. Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease) increases the risk, as does a high-fat, low-fibre diet, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and alcohol intake.4 Symptoms to watch for include a change in usual bowel habits, blood or mucus in the stools, abdominal pain, and a feeling of fullness that remains after passing stools.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer. Around one in seven Western men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, but there is a great deal of variability in the aggressiveness of the disease. Many cancers can be safely managed through ongoing monitoring, while others require radical treatment. Along with family history, heavy alcohol intake and obesity are risk factors. The BRCA2 gene, which is associated with some breast and ovarian tumours, also increases the risk of prostate cancer, and so a family history of any of these cancers is important.5,6

Bladder cancer

Another cancer that is caused by smoking, and one that ranges in aggressiveness. Other risk factors include exposure to carcinogens such as naphthylamine, which is used in the manufacture of rubber and leather and found in engine exhaust fumes. The most important symptom is having blood in the urine, and even a single episode of passing blood is important enough to seek medical advice. Other urinary symptoms such as pain on urination or a need to go more frequently may occur, but more commonly these symptoms do not indicate bladder cancer and are due to benign causes. Like most cancers, early detection is the key to good outcomes, but there is no useful screening test for bladder cancer yet.7,8

How to get involved with Blue September

If you are interested in getting more involved with the cause, you can visit their website here: http://www.blueseptember.org/. Fundraising ideas, events, and materials are all freely available on the website.

REFERENCES

1. Seigel R et al. Cancer Statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin. 2014;64(1):9-29.
2. Jemal A et al. Global Cancer Statistics. CA Cancer J Clin. 2011;61(2):69-90.
3. Alberg AJ. Epidemiology of lung cancer: Diagnosis and management of lung cancer, 3rd ed: American College of Chest Physicians evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest. 2013;143(5 suppl):e1S-29S.
4. Watson AJ, Collins PD. Colon cancer: a civilization disorder. Dig Dis. 2011;29(2):222-8.
5. Allott EH et al. Obesity and prostate cancer: weighing the evidence. Eur Urol. 2013 63(5):800-9.
6. Moran A et al. Risk of cancer other than breast or ovarian in individuals with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Fam Cancer. 2012;11(2):235-42.
7. Zeegers MP et al. A prospective study on active and environmental tobacco smoking and bladder cancer risk (The Netherlands). Cancer Causes Control. 2002;13(1):83-90.
8. Letašiová S et al. Bladder cancer, a review of the environmental risk factors. Environ Health. 2012;11 Suppl 1:S11.

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