Stellenbosch University
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Men's Health; Gender Health
Author: Dr. Lynne Julie
Published: 23/04/2019

Today is the launch of the Campus Health Services' Gender Health Campaign, a 4-week initiative offering more information on Men's Health, Women's Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), and Gender-based violence. Each week, we will be giving a better understanding on some of the issues within each area, as well as how to manage them. We kick off this week with Men's Health.

World-wide, men die an average of six years younger than women. Most of these deaths can be attributed to reasons that are largely preventable. In many cases, these deaths can be prevented by early detection and treatment, and in others, screening may lead to treatment and a better quality of life.

Of great concern is the fact that the number of men being diagnosed with late stage cancer is on the rise. Knowledge is power and can change the lives of men drastically if they are aware of early warning signs and symptoms of male cancers.

Men need to be pro-active about their health and should recognise warning signs. We encourage monthly testicular self-examinations, annual medical check-ups and cancer screening for early detection, as symptoms don't always present until cancer has spread. Men also need to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle, cutting out lifestyle factors that increase their cancer risk.


Screening tests for men:

Here is a checklist for the most common, and the most preventable, conditions, that can be detected through screening:


HIV TestBlood sampleEvery six months if you are sexually active.With a healthy lifestyle, you may live symptom-free for many years. Appropriate treatment may add years and quality to your life.
Blood PressureNo needles!

In your 20s and 30s: every two years


40+ years: once a year

Almost 90% of people older than 55 will develop high blood pressure. Your blood pressure should not exceed 120/80 mm Hg. People with a blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg have twice the risk of heart disease and an increased risk for stroke.
CholesterolBlood sample

In your 20s and 30s and a family history of heart disease: every two years


>40 years: every time you go for a check-up

High cholesterol levels increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. It is recommended that all blood lipid levels should be checked and not only cholesterol levels.
Type II DiabetesBlood sample

Everybody, no matter their age, should be tested every three years if they are at risk.

People who are most at risk include those with a family history of diabetes, people who are overweight, or people who have high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.

If you have Type 2 diabetes, you are at a higher risk for heart disease and eye problems.
Prostate CheckBlood sample for the PSA count, and/or a digital rectum examination

From age 40, annually: all men at high risk for prostate cancer (men with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer younger than 65 years)


From age 45, annually: all males who are at risk of prostate cancer (men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer younger than 65 years)


From age 50, annually: at least once every two years

One in eight men will develop prostate cancer. Typical signs may include difficulty in passing urine, enlarged lymph glands or blood in the urine.


More South African men are affected by prostate cancer than any other cancer. Early detection increases your chances of survival.

Testicular Self-ExamSpeaks for itself!Monthly, especially if you have undescended testes, previous history of a testicular tumour, brother or father with testicular tumours or if you are infertile. Look out for a painless lump or swelling of the testis, or a dull ache or heaviness in the scrotum or lower abdomen.Testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in males 15 – 35 years old. Early detection may really save your life.
Colon CheckPreferably a colonoscopy - an internal investigation of the colon with a flexible instrument after sedation

If there is no family history of colon cancer: age 50.


If there is a family history: age 40.

Then a colonoscopy every 5 - 10 years, depending on your degree of risk. If more than one first-degree relative has developed colon cancer, you should go every 3 - 5 years. Take note of sudden changes in regular bowel habit, blood in stools; or colic, bloating or fullness.

Colorectal cancer is the fifth most common cancer affecting South African men. If detected early, colon cancer is very treatable. Hereditary colorectal cancer is prevalent in some South African families: one in four cases are indeed genetic and may be detected very early with DNA tests.
Skin CheckChecking the appearance of a lesion. The doctor can also take a small sample of the lesion.

>40+ years: every year.


Golfers, cricketers, farmers, fishermen and others spending a lot of time in the sun, are at high risk.

Most forms of skin cancer, when detected early, can be treated very successfully.
Eye TestReading an eye chart and having an optometrist look into your eyes

In your 20s or 30s: every five years.

In your 40s: once every two years

50+ years: annually


Watch out for blurry vision, obstructed vision or pain in the eye.

Regular eye tests will detect weak eyesight, glaucoma and cataracts and may even save you from blindness.


A balanced lifestyle will reduce your risk for developing non-communicable diseases and cancer. This includes making smart food and drink choices; being physically active on a regular basis; maintaining a healthy weight; and avoiding known cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) such as tobacco and alcohol.

Knowing your family's medical history, going for regular health checks and cancer screening is also strongly advised.

If you would like to chat to one of the Nurses or Doctors at Campus Health Services, please contact us and book an appointment here.