Valentine’s: It’s about more than his heart

A Derbyshire medical director is advising men’s partners to think about more than their partners’ hearts this Valentine’s Day as cases of prostate cancer over take those of breast cancer.

Marco La Malfa medical director at Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre, is urging anyone with a male partner to take a few minutes on St Valentine’s Day to think about their partner’s health, as it just might save their lives.

He said: “Men’s health risks such as prostate, testicular and colorectal cancer have excellent success rates if treated early. The issue can be that men sometimes delay taking action, hoping the symptoms will go away: that is why it is important that we keep an eye on the men in our lives.”

Marco’s top questions to ask yourself to help you monitor a loved one’s health:

1. Have you noticed your partner making frequent visits to the toilet at night?

Prostate cancer presents itself as an obstruction and therefore the bladder is not completely emptied, resulting in the need to go sooner. Equally a change in bowel habits can be a sign of bowel cancer.

2. Are you finding urine marks around the toilet rim?

We have all experienced what happens to the stream from a garden hose when we disturb the flow with our thumb. The stream becomes a spray. This is the same with urine flow – an enlarged prostate can create the same interference.

3. Have you noticed their belts are tighter and their clothes are looser?

Unexpected weight loss, rather than any due to diet and exercise, can be a symptom of several ailments including cancer. Linked with this can be a decrease in appetite and lack of enjoyment of food in general. It is often the loved ones who notice these signs.

4. Do they seem to have a shortness of breath after carrying out normal activities?

This may be due to a lack of fitness but it could also be an indicator of respiratory issues such as asthma or lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in men. A persistent cough that will not go away may be accompanied by coughing up blood, so keep an eye on handkerchiefs or discarded tissues if you are concerned. A lack of energy or aches and pains when breathing would also need investigation.

5. Have they been lacking interest in things they usually enjoy, including sex?

While women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety, 84 per cent of UK men say they bottle up their emotions, according to YouGov research to raise awareness for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), the male suicide prevention charity.  Feeling empty, hopeless, irritable, anxious, or angry over several weeks are also tell-tale signs of depression in men, as are feeling very tired, sleeping too much or too little, or being unable to concentrate or remember details.

Marco said: “If you ask yourself these questions, and are concerned your partner is showing any of the symptoms, sit down with them and share your concerns. It may be that they are relieved at the chance to talk. If they do not open up, do not push it but reassure them that you are there for them and that getting treatment is not only important for them but for their family too.

“Reassure them that there is no embarrassment at seeing a healthcare professional – whatever the condition. I have been a doctor for many years and I can give every assurance that, no matter how personal your problem feels, you will be treated with care, empathy and discretion by our colleagues in every branch of the NHS.”