Grow a pair, and get tested. It could save your life!
The Hollard Daredevil Run challenges men to tackle cancer head on.
South Africa’s ‘ballsiest’ men are gearing up for the 2016 Hollard Daredevil Run, on a mission to kick cancer where it really hurts. The run raises awareness of the commonly diagnosed male cancers, such as prostate and testicular cancer, and encourages men to take charge of their health by getting tested.
“One in 27 men is at risk of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime,” says Professor Michael Herbst, Head of Health at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA). “However, cancer is not a death sentence. If detected early enough and treated accordingly, patients can enjoy a full recovery.”
According to CANSA research, the constant progress in prevention, detection and treatment means that at least 30 to 40 percent of cancers are preventable. In order to increase this positive statistic, CANSA and the Hollard Daredevil Run initiative urge men to take their health seriously by educating them on the various forms of male cancer and how they can test for each of them.
Nip testicular cancer in the bud
Although testicular cancer in South African men accounts for just one percent of all cancers diagnosed, the number of men diagnosed has doubled in the last 50 years. The reason for this is largely unknown, but signs and symptoms to look out for include lumps, swelling or a sharp pain in the testicles.
“Cancer is only one of the possible causes of these testicular symptoms,” says Herbst. “Pain and swelling in the testicles can also be caused by injury or infection, but closer examination from a medical practitioner is required to make a proper diagnosis.”
Testicular cancer affects men from as young as 15, and is most commonly found in males aged 20-29. With a large emphasis placed on prevention rather than cure, the Hollard Daredevil Run and CANSA encourage all men to get into the habit of self-testing.
Self-testing for lumps or irregularities can be done in four simple steps:
Examine your testicles after a warm bath or shower
Stand in front of a mirror and check for any signs of swelling
Support your testicles with one hand, and feel each one with your other hand
Roll your testicles between the thumb and fingers, feeling for any lumps (lumps can be as small as a grain of rice, and are usually quite firm)
Kick prostate cancer in the butt
According to recent CANSA statistics, South African men have a one-in-27 lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer, and it is most commonly diagnosed in men over the age of 65. However, meat-eaters and beer-guzzlers beware – a bad diet also has a considerable part to play in the risk of developing prostate cancer.
“Consuming high levels of fat and meat, as well as a low vegetable intake are just a few of the lifestyle habits associated with prostate cancer,” says Prof Herbst. “Obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking also increase the risk.”
Further CANSA research reveals that some of the early warning signs of prostate cancer include the need to urinate frequently – especially at night – as well as difficulty in passing urine, including a slow stream and the feeling of being unable to empty the bladder. Other signs to look out for are pain or discomfort in the pelvic area, swelling in the legs and the presence of blood in urine or semen.
However, these signs also point to other non-cancerous factors, such as benign prostate hyperplasia – an enlargement or inflammation of the prostate. While an enlarged prostate is not an immediate diagnosis of prostate cancer, symptoms are similar for both cancerous and non-cancerous cases.
Many cases of prostate and testicular cancers often go undiagnosed due to a lack of information, or in some cases, misconceptions. A common misconception, for example, is that those who have had vasectomies are at a higher risk for prostate cancer, as cited by a 1993 Harvard study, which has since been discredited.
Men over the age of 40 are encouraged to get tested for prostate cancer on an annual basis. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening tests are available and involve a simple prick to the finger or blood test. Only if high levels of PSA are present, are patients referred to a urologist, where further tests are likely to be done.
Beat male breast cancer
In cases where male breast cancer is caught early enough, there is a better chance of treating and even curing it. However, many men fall into the booby trap of waiting until the last minute to be tested, when symptoms are far more severe and the cancer may have already spread.
“The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a firm, non-painful mass located just below the nipple,” says Prof Herbst. “It is most prevalent in men between the ages of 40 and 80, as well as those who have an excess store of oestrogen in their bodies. Men who have had family members develop breast cancer are also at a higher risk.”
Tests for male breast cancer vary, but the most common methods include breast ultrasounds, biopsies and examinations of nipple discharge if present. Men of all ages are encouraged to check their pecks regularly for hard lumps or any other irregularities.
Dare to be a Daredevil
The Daredevil Run takes place on 19 February 2016 in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other satellite venues across South Africa. Speedo-clad men from across the country will join forces for the seventh consecutive year to raise awareness of male cancers, and to highlight that self-testing and early detection saves lives.
Free PSA screening tests will be available to all Daredevil participants over the age of 40 during the collection of their “run packs”, and will take the form of a simple finger-prick test.