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Men's health: Jun'13

As part of mens' health week on the 10-16 June, Paula McKeown one of our dedicated nurses answered your questions around men's health.

AXA PPP healthcare: Hi and welcome to our live chat on men's health, get your questions over to Paula now :)

Nick1 asked: Hi, At what age do men tend to need to have their first prostate exam?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Hi for most men, it would be at or around 50 years old. 

Anonymous108 asked: I've heard of prostate cancer vaccines. Are they available yet?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There are some vaccines in drug trials at present but nothing has been licensed as yet.

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If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to men’s health, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?

 

AXA PPP healthcare: We've just had a question come through from Carl on Facebook; "How often should I be checking my testicles, and what abnormalities should I be looking out for?"

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Hi Carl. There are no official recommendations.  It is suggest you check after a bath or shower from time to time.  It is good to be generally aware of how your body looks and check if you notice any visual changes.  In terms of checking the testicles, you are looking for any lumps or bumps, any swelling or skin changes.

Ruth asked: How much does diet impact the chances of male cancers?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There is some evidence to suggest that prostate cancer can be affected by diet -  Foods that are high in fat are thought to increase risks.  There is some evidence to suggest that green vegetables, green tea and soy may reduce prostate cancer rates.

Nick1 asked: What signs would a doctor generally be looking for during a prostate exam?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: The prostate gland should feel smooth and not enlarged.  They are looking for any enlargement or any lumps/changes in texture.  Enlargement of the prostate gland doesn't necessarily mean cancer, it can indicate a non cancerous enlargement of the gland which appears with age.

Ianto asked: What can I do to minimise risk of prostate cancer outside of healthy diet/ not smoking? For example does exercise help?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Exercise can help to reduce your risk as can maintaining a healthy body weight.

Ianto commented: Thanks Paula - another motivation to stay away from too many fry ups!

Fiona asked: Hi there - how often should men check themselves for lumps etc and are there any other symptoms other than the usual checks?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Hi  There are no specific recommendations as to how often.  The best time to check is after a bath or shower. The main thing to be aware of how your body normally looks and get any lumps checked out.  Unexplained pain, bleeding or changes in body functions are other symptoms to get checked out.

AXA PPP healthcare asked: Another question from Facebook, this time from Kim, who has asked; "My Dad has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I'm finding it difficult in knowing how to support him, what's the best thing I can do to help?"

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Hi Kim.  Talk to him about how he is doing.  Some men find it difficult to talk about their worries and fears.  A really good source of help and information is Prostate Cancer UK http://prostatecanceruk.org/ and  the leaflets can provide information which is a really good starting point for conversations.

Anonymous109 asked: How does a family history of prostate cancer affect the risk of developing it?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There is evidence to suggest you are more likely to develop it if you have 2 or more relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer under the age of 50 or if there were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.  Prostate cancer is not necessarily more common in families when it is diagnosed when older eg 70 years old or later. Also if your father or brother has prostate cancer, you are at higher risk.

Mikes asked: When should I contact a doctor to discuss symptoms possibly related to the prostate?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: If you are worried about symptoms you have, you should discuss them with your GP.  Prostate symptoms do not necessarily mean they are due to cancer.

Heather asked: I've heard about something called gynaecomastia. Can you explain in more detail what it is

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Gynaecomastia is enlargement of breast tissue in men.  This can be seen due to the effects of hormone treatment to treat prostate cancer but can be linked to other conditions such as obesity.

Scott asked: Since recovering from prostate cancer, my Grandad has been suffering from Urinary incontinence, is there anything he could do to help counter this?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There are different things that can help depending on the type of incontinence.  Increasing fluid intake can help as concentrated urine can irritate the bladder.  Pelvic floor exercises can help also.  There are also some medications that can help.  It is worth speaking to a urologist so the incontinence can be properly assessed.

Scott commented: Thank you.

Anonymous110 asked: Is prostate cancer curable?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Hi  In many cases it is.  It depends on how early it is diagnosed and how well the patient responds to treatment.  Survival rates have improved in the past few years with better treatment and early diagnosis.

Stephan asked: How does drinking alcohol affect the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: A high alcohol intake can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.  The reasons for this are not clear but we know it does increase the risk

Stephan asked: Does having a vasectomy affect the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There is no definite evidence to suggest this is the case.

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If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to men’s health, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?

 

JonS asked: What causes testicular cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: We don't know at present.  Several things have been shown to increase the risk such as previous cancer treatment or undescended testicles but they do not always cause it.

Hal asked: Does an abnormally large testicle with a weird bump on it indicate testicular cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: It may be but there are other causes which are not cancer.  Any swelling of the testicles or lumps should be checked out by your GP as soon as you notice them and ultrasound carried out.  Even if it is testicular cancer, it has a very high cure rate especially if diagnosed early.

GL fan asked: Can men get breast cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Yes they can.  Any breast lumps in men should be checked out in the same way as in women.

Luke asked: Following on from the above question, how common is breast cancer in men? And is there anything you can do to lower the risk?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: It is not very common.  As with most cancers, the main things you can do to lower the risk is to follow a generally healthy lifestyle.  Also get any lumps checked out by your GP as soon as you feel them.

AXA PPP healthcare: A question from David on Facebook; "A lot I've read says that a testicle that is affected by testicular cancer will have to be removed, is this true? If so how does this impact on fertility?"

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: The initial treatment is often to remove the testicle. Most men can father children after surgery.  Chemotherapy can affect fertility more but men are usually offered sperm banking before treatment in case this happens.

Chris asked: Are your testicles meant to be the same size, I have one quite a bit larger than the other does this indicate a problem?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: They aren't always the same size.  This doesn't indicate a problem. Changes in size or appearance such as lumps should be checked out.

Chris asked: If you've suffered from Mumps in your testicles, will this increase your chances of prostate or testicular problems?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Some studies have suggested that if you have had Mumps orchitis (swelling in the testicles due to mumps), this may increase the risk but there is not a definitive link.  There is no known connection with prostate problems.

AXA PPP healthcare: We've had a question from Roy on Twitter; "Who is most susceptible to prostate cancer?"

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Prostate cancer is most common after 70 years old.  Men from an Afro Caribbean background are 2-3 times more likely to develop Prostate cancer.  Having a father or brother with prostate cancer means you are more likely to develop it also as is having one or more first degree relative with prostate cancer under 60.

Anonymous111 asked: Can prostate cancer treatment cause erection problems?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Yes it can.  Different treatments can affect things at different rates.  There are several different medications that can help and some other treatments also.  Speak to your GP who can arrange for you to be referred to a specialist NHS clinic to discuss your options.

Dexy asked: Does a family history of prostate cancer increase my risk of developing it?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: It can increase your risk if your brother or father has it, especially if they are younger when diagnosed.

Anonymous112 asked: Is there a vaccine to treat prostate cancer?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered:
Hi  there are some ongoing trials but there is not a currently licensed vaccine.

JH asked: Does testicular cancer generally make you infertile?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Not necessarily.  Some men can find their fertility affected, especially if they have chemotherapy but most men can father children after testicular cancer.

Jared asked: How is testicular cancer diagnosed?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Usually using an ultrasound and blood tests called markers.  They can not biopsy the testicle due to the risk of cancer spreading so if testicular cancer is thought to be likely after the blood tests and ultrasound, the testicle is removed and examined.  Sometimes a MRI scan is done if diagnosis is uncertain.

Ruth asked: Are there any recent advances in medical research into male cancers?

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: There is a lot of research ongoing into Prostate cancer, resulting in several new treatments which are being trialled at present.  The most recent advance in prostate cancer is the new drug Abiraterone which came on to the market last year and is proving to be be very successful. There is also ongoing research into genetic markers which are thought to indicate if prostate cancer is more aggressive with hope of targetted screening in the future.  There is also research into the genetic markers for testicular cancer.

AXA PPP healthcare: We've had a question from Ashley on Facebook, who has asked; "What is the difference between prostatitis and prostate cancer?"

Paula McKeown, Dedicated Cancer Nurse answered: Prostatis is an inflamation of the prostate gland which is often caused by infection.  It is not cancer and is treated usually with antibiotics.

AXA PPP healthcare:
That is it, the live chat is now closed for today. Thank you for all your great questions and thank you to Paula for all her brilliant answers. We hope they have helped you.

 


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