Article By: Vanessa Chalmers
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MEN should be doing these five DIY health checks regularly to avoid a life-threatening health problems. They take less than a few minutes to do and could save your life.
Many preventable cancers have early warning signs, like lumps or changes in the skin.
Dr Jiri Kubes, medical director of the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, a cancer treatment facility, says the earlier something is spotted, the quicker it can be treated and possibly cured.
She said: “Seeking help from your GP should always be the first thing you do if you suspect you may have a health problem, but there are a few simple exercises that all men should try to do themselves on a regular basis.
“Checks such as inspecting the body for lumps, keeping an eye out for changes in your urine or monitoring your heart rate could help identify issues before they become too serious to treat.”
She urged men to do their at-home tests, but also to be brave enough to see a GP if there are red flags.
“Sadly, men can sometimes be reluctant to see a doctor if they feel something might be wrong with their health,” Dr Kubes said.
The most common causes of death for men in the UK include heart disease, various cancers, stroke and respiratory illnesses.
More than a fifth of deaths recorded in 2019 were considered avoidable, and of those, 64 per cent were "preventable", with interventions such as a healthy diet, more exercise or regular health screenings, according to the Office for National Statistics.
So what can you do TODAY?
Check for lumps
Men are advised to check their body for lumps at least once a month, with particular focus on the testicles and chest area - yes, men can get breast cancer, too.
Each year, an estimated 350 men in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer, while the NHS website states around 2,300 British men are told they have testicular cancer each year.
Symptoms of testicular cancer include new lumps on either of the testicles, which can either be painful or painless or any changes to the shape or feel of the testicle.
After a shower can be a good time to check the body for lumps or unusual discharge from the nipples.
Monitor your heart rate
Heart disease is the one of the biggest killers of men in the UK, with more than 120,000 deaths per year.
An irregular heart rate can be an early warning sign that there may be a problem, with a range of 60-100 beats per minute said to be within normal limits.
The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm, or lower.
See a GP to get checked if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 60bpm, although it may simply be that this is normal for you, the NHS says.
You should also pay attention to the space between beats to ensure they are consistent.
Changes to your urine
Some changes to the frequency of your urination, or the colour of it, can be explained by harmless dietary or medicinal reasons.
But a sudden increase in the need to wee, or going to wee less, can also be a sign of a serious problem.
Passing urine more often, or struggling to pass it, can be an indicator of prostate cancer, which affects around 50,000 British men each year.
When the prostate is enlarged, it can press on the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder) which can make it difficult to pass urine or feel like you need to go.
Being aware of changes to your toilet habits can help identify problems earlier and could end up being a lifesaver.
Oral health check
There are a number of health problems that can develop in the mouth, including oral and throat cancer and gum disease.
Men should use a finger to check for lumps and sores inside the mouth and watch out for ones that don’t heal as quickly as expected.
Other symptoms to keep an eye out for include mouth ulcers that won’t go away, loose teeth, red or white patches in the mouth, a change in speech or numbness.
Receding and bleeding gums can also be a sign that there is an issue that should be addressed urgently.
Keep an eye on moles and skin tags
Many of us have moles, freckles and skin tags on our bodies and while they are normally harmless, sudden changes can point to a problem developing.
If a mole becomes noticeably larger or darker, or develops uneven edges, it can be a sign of a melanoma.
And growths that begin to itch, bleed or become crusted can also serve as an early warning that something isn’t right and needs to be checked by a professional.
Signs to look out for include the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, border raises, colour change, diameter changes and elevation changes.
Any changes should be reported to your GP.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, and currently affects more men than women in the UK, with over 147,000 new cases each year.