All In 4 Health: #Allin4health #health4all #minding your wellbeing #healthawareness

 By Dr T.W Ngwenya Changamire

We continue to raise awareness on common cancers affecting men. In our last article we mentioned that the most common cancers affecting men in our region are Prostate cancer which is the most common and has been found to be more common and more aggressive in black men. The second most common cancer is colorectal cancer.

We mentioned the risk factors of developing colorectal cancer. Screening may start as early as at the age 40 for these cancers, this is largely dependent on the family history of cancer.

This week we will talk about the remaining 3 cancers from the top 5 common cancers affecting men in our region. These are Lung cancer, Testicular cancer and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Who is at risk of developing Lung cancer? Lung cancer most often occurs in smokers. People who are also at risk of developing lung cancer are HIV infected individuals, those with a family history of lung cancer, advanced age, Chronic obstructive disease, Occupational exposures and air pollution.

Smoking by far is the leading risk factor for development of lung cancer.



Nearly 9 out of the 10 lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. The longer you smoke the greater your risk of developing cancer. Smoking not only increases your risk of lung cancer but it also increases your risk of other cancers developing anywhere in the body. This includes development of cancer in the colon or rectum as we discussed in our last article, cancer in the stomach, oesophagus (food-pipe), bladder, throat, pancreas and blood cancer.

Quitting smoking lowers the risk for these cancers. Smoking is hazardous to health. The goal is to quit smoking. Screening is not a solution for preventing cancer but quitting smoking is.

Screening for lung cancer may be considered by people who have smoked for a long time.  In other regions it is recommended that if you have a 20 pack year history of smoking you should go for annual screening. Those aged above 50 years are also advised to go for screening. How do you calculate the number of pack years?

Here is how you do it. If you have smoked on average 1 pack of cigarettes per day, assuming that this pack has got 20 cigarettes, and you have smoked for 20 years this equates to 20 pack years. If you have smoked 20 cigarettes (1 pack) for 10 years this is 10 pack years, or 10 cigarettes (half a pack) for 20 years this also equates to 10 pack years.



The South African Thoracic Society recommends that annual screening be offered to patients between the ages of 55 and 74 who are current smokers, or former smokers who have quit less than 15 years ago, or those with a 30 pack year history of smoking. Screening is done by low density CT scans (LDCT).

Symptoms of lung cancer include coughing often with blood that does not resolve, loss of weight, chest pain, shortness of breath or wheezing, change in voice and weakness.

Testicular cancer is cancer involving the testicles. Testicles are part of the male reproductive organ that is responsible for production of sperm. Testicles are located in a loose bag of skin referred to as the scrotum. Testicular cancer can affect boys and men.

It can occur between the ages of 15 and 44. It is important to remember this age range because unlike most cancers that are more common in the elderly population this one mostly affects young adults.

So like most cancers, to catch them early boys and men are encouraged to learn about how testicular cancer may present, to also learn about how to conduct MONTHLY examination of the scrotum and to present to a medical doctor whenever they detect a suspicious lesion in this area.



Symptoms include a swelling or lump which may be painful or not painful. One may also experience a dull ache or chronic pain the groin or scrota area. It’s important to go in for examination because the doctor will be able to differentiate whether it is an infection commonly related to a sexually transmitted infection, or whether it is testicular torsion which is an urgent condition.

Testicular torsion is a condition where the testicles twist and this results in occlusion of blood supply to the testis and this may affect fertility in the future.

Screening for testicular cancer involves performing monthly self-examinations by checking each testicle by firmly rolling it between the thumb and fingers checking for lumps, pain or asymmetry. Screening also involves a clinical scrotal exam, ultrasound scan of the testes and if need be a blood test to test for tumour markers.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic immune system. Symptoms include painless swelling in a lymph node, commonly affecting lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin area. Another non-cancerous and common disease that affects the lymph odes in a similar manner is TB infection. TB lymphadenitis is common.



It is important to go in and get checked. A biopsy sample is taken from one of the swollen lymph nodes and the histology results will confirm what the condition is. Risk factors for developing Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma include HIV infection or any condition that lowers your immune system and previous infection with Epstein Barr virus (EBV).

These different cancers have different modalities which depends on the stage of the cancer. Treatment commonly involves chemotherapy, radiotherapy and in some case surgery.

Let me stress again that it is important to know your risk profile or speak to a doctor about your risk status to certain cancers, to conduct monthly self-examinations of the testes and to seek help when an abnormality is detected, to go in for the recommended screening schedules and to stay informed to health conditions affecting men in general.


Contact All In 4 Health – Dr TW Ngwenya Changamire – for General Medical Consultation, Health Screening, Medical Check-up, Health Education and Promotion. The Glen Marais Shopping Centre, 57 Veld Street, Glen Marais, Kempton park 1619













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