The 4 leading cancers amongst Singapore men

Not all cancers were created equal — here are the ones Singaporean men should be most concerned about.

You do not have to be a physician to know that men and women are built differently. Aside from the obvious physical attributes, the most prevalent cancers, too, differ between the genders. For example, while breast cancer was found to be the most common cause of cancer-related deaths for Singaporean women from 2011 to 2015, lung cancer was the deadliest cancer in men.

In this article, we take a look at four common cancers that affect men, as well as the screenings that you should be aware of.

1. Lung cancer

Cancer is far and away the top killer in Singapore, with lung cancer responsible for the majority of cancer deaths among Singaporean men between 2011 and 2015 at 27.1 percent, according to the Singapore Cancer Registry.

This may be due to the fact that smoking is far more prevalent among Singaporean men than women, with men being around five times more likely to smoke than women. And, although your grandfather may have smoked a pack a day until he was well into his nineties, such cases are rare. In fact, cigarette smoking is linked to about 80 to 90 percent of lung cancers.

Screening: Symptoms may show up even before you step into the doctor’s office. Persistent coughs or shortness of breath may be the first signs, but a doctor may order more thorough testing, like computerised tomography (CT) scans. Further tests to confirm diagnosis may include biopsies, which require the extraction of tissue samples.

2. Colorectal cancer

Statistics from the Singapore Cancer Registry show that colorectal cancer was the second-most common cause of cancer deaths for men from 2011 to 2015. While lung cancer has been clearly linked to cigarette smoking, there seems to be some connection between smoking and colorectal cancer as well, though the exact link is less clear. Smoking habits aside, your personal risk depends on factors such as age, family history of cancer and your tendency to inherit cancer genes.

Screening: The simplest, most effective way to detect this cancer is via a rectal examination. Yes, it sounds icky, but it takes less than five minutes with minimal discomfort. For a more thorough examination, a colonoscopy may be ordered.

3. Liver cancer

Liver cancer clocks in as the third-most common cancer-related killer among Singaporean males from 2011 to 2015, according to the Singapore Cancer Registry. Individuals with hepatitis B or hepatitis C are 100 times more susceptible to liver cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption over time may also lead to liver cancer.

Screening: Routine ultrasounds and blood tests for alpha-fetoprotein can be used to screen for liver cancer. However, according to the National Cancer Centre Singapore, a CT scan is probably the best option for detection and treatment.

4. Stomach cancer

Here is an eye-opening fact: even though stomach cancer is not the most common cancer in Singapore (the Singapore Cancer Registry found that from 2011 to 2015, it was the seventh-most common cancer diagnosis for men and ninth for women), it ranked fourth among cancer deaths in Singaporean men from 2011 to 2015. Stomach cancer is more common in people between 50 and 70 years of age.

Screening: Blood tests may pick up early symptoms, but more sophisticated examinations, such as the barium meal X-ray examination, work better because they are able to detect lumps or ulcers in the stomach wall.

Don’t take the possibility of getting cancer lightly. Protect yourself against critical illnesses by preparing in advance.

The information in this article does not necessarily reflect the views of Prudential Assurance Company Singapore Pte. Ltd. Certain information in this article may be taken from external sources, which we consider reliable. We do not represent that this information is accurate or complete and should not be relied upon as such.

This article is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you seek advice from a Prudential Singapore Financial Consultant before making a commitment to purchase a policy.