Common Cancers In Australian Men

It’s estimated that 1 in 3 Australian men will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

Fortunately, many cancer survival rates are improving thanks to advances in available treatments. But this increase isn’t consistent across all cancers, nor does it guarantee survival.

Here at Hunter Valley Oncology, we have put together a list of common cancers affecting Australian men today. Read on to find out how to reduce your cancer risk.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 men will face a diagnosis by the age of 85.
As with many cancers, the earlier it’s caught, the better the prognosis. The five year survival rate for men diagnosed with prostate cancer is 95%. However, high grade prostate cancer spreads very quickly and can be fatal.

What you can do
Age, family history, and genetics can all influence your likelihood of developing prostate cancer. If you’re over 50 and have a family history of the disease, talk with your doctor about testing for prostate cancer as part of your annual health check-up.
See your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Frequently needing to urinate, particularly at night
  • Pain or discomfort while urinating
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • A weak or intermittent urine stream

Healthy eating including, fresh fruit and vegetables and having a low fat diet can also improve your chances of avoiding this disease.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australia, with one out of 18 men estimated to die from the disease by their 85th birthday. Unfortunately, the five year survival rate for people diagnosed with lung cancer is just 14%.

What you can do
Although there are many risk factors associated with this disease including pollution, family history, and exposure to certain chemicals, studies have found that 90% of lung cancers in males are directly caused by smoking.

Therefore, the single most important thing you can do to reduce your lung cancer risk is to avoid cigarette smoke. If you currently smoke, there are multiple programs and tools available to help you quit. Visit or call Quitline on 13 78 48 for help and guidance.

Colorectal cancer

Also known as bowel cancer or colon cancer, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Australian men, with 1 in 11 males estimated to be diagnosed before their 85th birthday.

People with a family history of colorectal cancer are considered to be at higher risk of developing the disease.

What you can do

It’s believed that eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise could prevent up to 75% of colorectal cancer cases. Quitting smoking, limiting alcohol to 2 standard drinks a day, and avoiding processed and red meats can also improve your chances of avoiding a diagnosis.
There is a non-invasive bowel cancer screening test available, known as the faecal occult blood test (FOBT). Australians over the age of 50 are encouraged to use the test every 2 years. Additionally, a colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years to check for abnormalities in the bowel.

Visit your GP if you notice any of the following:

  • Changes in your bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • Blood in your stools
  • Abdominal, anal, or rectal pain
  • A lump in your anus or rectum
  • Unexplained fatigue, anaemia or weight loss

Bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is significantly more common in men than women. Men over 60 years old carry a higher risk of developing the disease, which has a 5 year survival rate of 53%.

People with a family history of the disease are at a higher risk of a diagnosis. Other factors that increase your risk include:

  • Smoking (this doubles your risk)
  • Family history
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the petrochemical, textile, and rubber industries
  • The chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide

What you can do
There is currently no screening for bladder cancer available in Australia. Quitting smoking is the biggest risk factor you can avoid.
In addition, see your doctor if you notice:

  • A burning sensation when passing urine
  • Blood in your urine
  • An urgent need to pass urine often
  • Problems emptying your bladder

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the 10th most common cancer in Australian men. Unfortunately, this type of cancer has a very low survival rate of just 8% over 5 years. This is because pancreatic cancer rarely causes symptoms, so it’s not often caught until in its final stages.

People with a family history of pancreatic, ovarian or colon cancer are considered to be at higher pancreatic cancer risk. Also, those with chronic pancreatitis or diabetes, or people over the age of 65 are more likely to face a positive diagnosis.

What you can do
Smokers are 2-3 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. So if you do smoke, it could be time to quit. Additionally, removing foods high in cholesterol, salt, fried foods, barbecued meat, and smoked meats from your diet may improve your cancer risk.

Testicular cancer

Testicular cancer is the second most common cancer in Australian men aged 18-39. Fortunately, it has a high 5 year survival rate close to 95%. Early detection and treatment are key to a positive outcome.

What you can do
It’s important to remain vigilant about your testicular health. Check your testicles regularly, taking care to notice:

  • Swelling or a lump in your testicle
  • A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum
  • Pain or aching in your abdomen, scrotum, or testicle
  • Change in the size or shape of your testicle

Also, tenderness or swelling of your breast tissue can be caused by hormonal changes related to testicular cancer. If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your GP for a referral to myself, Dr Rob Paterson, or one of our other oncologists at Hunter Valley Oncology.

Where to get further advice

At Hunter Valley Oncology, we recommend seeking advice if you have any concerns about your cancer risk. Our patient-centred, holistic Oncology practice is located in Newcastle NSW. To make an appointment, please call (02) 4941 8424 or (02) 4942 2600 or use our online contact form.