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Updated: 23 May 2012 09:38 | By Lee Kynaston, contributor, MSN Him

Five most common cancers in men

MSN Him reveals the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men, along with the key strategies needed to ensure you don't become just another statistic.

Most common types of cancer (© Getty Images)

According to new research the number of new cancer cases in the UK could rise by 45% by 2030. Why? Well, partly because we're living longer for starters. So that's kind of bad news wrapped in good news. What's bad news wrapped in bad news though is that unhealthy lifestyles and a 'stiff upper lip' attitude make men 16% more likely to develop cancer than women and 40% more likely to die from it. So if you don't want to become just another statistic here's how to kick the most common cancers into the long grass. Or at least how to reduce your chances of encountering the most common of them.

1. Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer affects one in nine men in the UK and over 37,000 men are diagnosed with it every year.

Are you at risk?

Though young men are sometimes affected, prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50, with your risk increasing with age. A family history of the cancer can elevate your risk (you're just over twice as likely to get prostate cancer if your dad or brother has been diagnosed with it) and men of Afro-Caribbean descent are three times more at risk, possibly because of inherited genes.


Since the prostate gland is hidden (it's located under the bladder and produces fluid to enrich semen) prostate cancer often grows slowly and may not cause problems in some men but in others it is more aggressive, spreading beyond the prostate gland and requiring treatment.

Symptoms are often mild and go ignored so if you have problems peeing, need to go more frequently (especially at night) or feel like you haven't fully emptied your bladder then talk to your GP.


Slow-growing cancer may be monitored rather than treated. Otherwise the cancer is treated with surgical removal, radiotherapy or hormone treatment.

Minimise your risk

Younger men with a family history of prostate cancer should certainly be thinking about adopting a healthy diet, rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and cooked tomatoes, which contain lycopene, known to have a protective benefit.
Catching a few rays may help too. According to one study published in Cancer Research, the more time you spend in the sun the less your chances of developing prostate cancer. Researchers put this down to the fact that sunlight enables the body to synthesise vitamin D, which is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells. Just don't forget the sunscreen.

Finally, a study by the University of Nottingham showed that regular masturbation may help prevent prostate cancer too, possibly by clearing out potential carcinogens, though it only appears to be effective later in life when you hit middle age. In fact, the study showed that guys in their 20s who ejaculate over 20 times a month have an increased risk so you might want to put off for tomorrow what you're tempted to do today.

Help and advice: The Prostate Cancer Charity and helpline: 0845 300 8383

2. Lung cancer

Stubbed out cigarettes in an ashtray (© Joerg Sarbach-Associated Press)

Tobacco smoke is thought to be responsible for 9 out of 10 cases of lung cancer

Mostly affecting people over 40, cases of lung cancer might have dropped dramatically over the last 20 years as more and more men pack up the fags but it's still the second most diagnosed cancer in men, accounting for around 14% of male cancers, and is still the biggest killer.

Are you at risk?

Although non-smokers do get lung cancer, tobacco smoke is thought to be responsible for 9 out of 10 cases and if you smoke you're 10 times more likely to get it than a non-smoker. What's more, the risk increases the more fags you smoke, the earlier you start and the longer you go on smoking.

The second biggest cause of lung cancer is radon gas - emitted naturally by soil and in high concentration in the West Country and Peak District. There's also evidence to suggest that if one of your parents has had lung cancer your own risk is doubled.


Having a cough that doesn't seem to improve, loss of appetite, fatigue, coughing up phlegm with blood in it.


Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and its type. Surgery and radiotherapy are all used.

Minimise your risk

You know the score - if you smoke, give up. If you do, your risk of developing lung cancer will be roughly the same as that of a non-smoker after 15 years. Chances are you'll be fitter, richer and more women will want to kiss you too. Need any more more convincing?

Help and advice: British Lung Foundation and helpline: 03000 030 555

3. Colorectal cancer

Bobby Moore celebrating England's winning the football World Cup in 1966 (© Associated Press)

Colorectal cancer claimed the life of football legend Bobby Moore

Though 85% of bowel cancers are diagnosed in people aged over 65, the seeds are often sown earlier in life. Men are slightly more at risk than women and about 21,000 are diagnosed each year. In recent years it's had more, welcomed publicity - it was the cancer that claimed the life of football legend Bobby Moore.


Warning signs include blood in your stools, abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits and weight loss.


A combination of options are available, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and, if detected early enough, the survival rate for five years is an impressive 90%.

Minimise your risk

We Brits might be famous for our toilet humour but we're remarkably squeamish when it comes to checking our stools but you know what they say in horror movies - always look behind you.

Diet is key to reducing your risk of bowel cancer too (all cancer in fact since as many as 35% of all cases of the disease are thought to be diet related). Aim for a high-fibre, low-fat diet, rich in fruit and vegetables and low in red meats.

Since booze and inactivity are factors too it's worth watching what you drink and exercising regularly too. Recent research has also shown that two aspirins a day may cut the long-term risk of bowel cancer in people with a family history of the disease. If a parent or sibling has had bowel cancer, though, talk to your GP about screening.

Help and advice: Bowel Cancer UK and helpline 0800 8 40 35 40

4. Bladder cancer

Man wincing on doctor's gurney (© Jakub Mosur-Associated Press)

Symptoms of bladder cancer include pelvic pain and an urge to pass urine frequently

Are you at risk? Bladder cancer is three times more common in men than women and usually affects men over 50 but can strike at a younger age too. Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, for example, was diagnosed with a low-grade malignant tumour in his bladder during routine tests for gastroenteritis back in 2009 - when he was just 47.


Symptoms can include a burning feeling when peeing, blood in your urine, pelvic pain and an urge to pass urine frequently. These symptoms are remarkably similar to those caused by some sexually transmitted infections though so a routine screening at your local STI clinic might be your first port of call.


As with other cancers, treatment depends on the nature of the tumour, how early it's caught and whether it has spread. Some tumours are burnt off using a special wire loop passed into the bladder. Men are fortunate to have a better survival rate than women, but early detection is essential.

Minimise your risk

Like many cancers, we still don't know why some people are prone to bladder cancer though what is known is that smoking triples your risk of developing bladder cancer (half of all cases are thought to be caused by smoking) so packing in the fags is the single most important step you can take to minimise your risk. Are you seeing a theme developing here?

Help and advice: Action on Bladder Cancer

5. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Man in doctor's office (© Getty Images)

Visit your doctor if you are concerned you are suffering any of these symptoms

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is one of two broad categories of cancer specifically affecting the lymphatic system (the other is Hodgkin's lymphoma) and affects the body's white cells. Thanks to the body-wide nature of the lymphatic system it can pop up anywhere.

Are you at risk?

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is slightly more common in men than women and can strike at any age, though you're up to three times more likely to be at risk if an immediate family member has suffered from the disease. Those with lowered immune systems and auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis are thought to have a higher risk, as are men who've suffered from skin cancer.


One of the first signs is often enlarged lymphnodes in the neck, armpits or groin (though remember that this is often the first sign of a whole host of infections, including a bad case of manflu). This is sometimes accompanied by chills, fever, night sweats, tiredness and weight loss.


Usually a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. The good news is that the survival rate if you have Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is 90%.

Minimise your risk

Unfortunately, of all the five most common cancers that affect men, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is the least preventable by direct action. In the vast majority of cases doctors simply don't know what causes the disease, though obesity is thought to be a risk factor and some studies have suggested a link between recreational drug use - particularly of cocaine - and the disease in men. The studies were only small but their results are not to be, er, sniffed at.

Help and advice: the Lymphoma Association and helpline: 0808 808 5555

Knowledge is power my friends - knowing the facts about male cancers is just the beginning though. Be mindful of your general health and if you have any concerns, do visit your GP for more help and advice.

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