With statistics showing men had a 14% higher risk of developing cancer than women, Maggie's Centres are homely cancer support buildings that are designed to appeal to men.

Of the 146,000 visits Maggie's had in 2013, 49,500 were by men. By the end of the third quarter of 2014, nearly 39,000 men had visited its centres, an increase of more than 30 percent compared to the same period last year.

Cancer patient Mike Ridley-Smith, 56, attends regular men's gathering "for the banter" and a prostate cancer support group at Maggie's Newcastle, which has masculine features including concrete, steel and oak materials and exercise equipment. Ridley-Smith has also found Maggie's free emotional support useful, from visiting experts and in-house specialist staff including a psychologist.

"After my diagnosis and I had my prostate removed, they then came back and said unfortunately the cancer had spread," the father of two recalled.

"That pushed me and I had basically a mini-breakdown over Christmas time and Maggie's suggested that I come and have some help."