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Men's Health Line - Cancer

Men's Health Line
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Introduction and Causes Symptoms and Effects
Prevention Treatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is Cancer?

Cancer happens when a gene becomes damaged and the cell begins to grow out of control.

Cancer in its many forms is not only the principle cause of death in adult men, it is also an important cause of potential years of life lost killing many boys and young men in their prime life.

What causes it?

Although the exact causes of most types of cancer are yet to be elucidated, evidence shows that our lifestyles such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and exposure to radiation are the most important factors associated with cancer. Genetic inheritance plays only a minor part.


For many years, cancer has been the number one killer disease in Hong Kong. In 2018, 8,526 registered deaths in men were due to cancer and the number of new cases of cancer in men had increased. For males in 2018, the most common cancer new cases involved lung, colorectum and liver.

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Do You Know...

Smoking increases your risk of various types of cancer, such as lung, mouth, throat and oesophageal cancer.

What are the early warning signs?

Different cancers can present in different ways, and some cancers often go unnoticed. Being "cancer smart" means learning about their early signs and symptoms, getting to know your body, being aware of any abnormal change, and spotting its early warning signs, such as:

  • Coughs that do not go away
  • Blood in sputum and nasal secretion
  • A hoarseness that hangs around
  • Change in bowel habit, or blood in urine or stool
  • Lumps in neck, abdomen or other part of the body
  • Sores or ulcers that do not heal
  • A mole that changes shape, size and colour
  • Persistent loss of appetite or difficulty in swallowing
  • A persistent loss of weight that cannot be explained

The above symptoms may not necessarily indicate the presence of underlying cancerous disease, but they may be important early warnings. So it is wise to consult a doctor if you have queries.

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How can I prevent it?

"Cancer smart" also means adopting a healthy lifestyle, or making some habit changes that could help you cut your risk of developing cancer. Tips for being cancer smart include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Cut back on fatty foods and eat more fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Taking extra skin care in the sun
  • Avoid unnecessary stress
  • Make early detection and follow the cancer screening guidelines, especially if you have a family history of cancer
  • Follow all the health and safety regulations if you work with dangerous chemicals or radiation
  • Vaccinate against hepatitis B

How do I find out if I have cancer?

If you notice any symptoms as described above, you should consult a doctor immediately. Cancer can be diagnosed by x-rays, blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, and procedures to obtain tissue samples from specific or related sites for laboratory examination.


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What is the treatment?

Early treatment of a cancerous tumour, before it gets too big or spreads, means better chance of recovery. Treatment for cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy (use of anti-cancer or hormonal drugs), or radiotherapy (use of x-rays to target and kill cancer cells), alone or in combination. The doctor will recommend the optimal treatment depending on the sites involved and the size of the tumour, along with the extent to which it affects the patient's life, and the presence of any other medical conditions.

How can I help myself?

Everyone deals with cancer differently. However, early detection and staying optimistic about the treatment are all the more important. If you concern about or have a diagnosis of cancer, you may take the following suggestions in addition to the above-mentioned preventive tips as a guide:

  • Learn more about the disease and its treatment
  • Talk to someone (your family, close friends, or a counselor) about how you feel
  • Learn how to cooperate with the people involved with your care, including the health professionals, your family and friends.
  • Take part in support groups to boost the ability to self-care and to obtain mutual support.
  • Eat properly and have a low fat healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly under medical supervision.
  • Avoid stress, learn relaxation techniques and do things that you can enjoy.

If you have any suspicions, you should seek medical advice.

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Health Tips
Adapting a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent cancer.
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  Warning Signs On Health
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    Cancer Prevention and Screening
    Recommendations of Cancer Expert Working Group on Cancer Prevention and Screening - An Overview
  Cancer Hotline
"Cancer Comrades" Cancer Hotline
Hotline Opening : 8 pm to 10 pm
Phone: 2893 2122 / 2987 8933
    Support Group
Hong Kong Anti-cancer Society
Phone: 3921 3821