A worrying lack of awareness and knowledge are preventing men from acting on concerns they have about the most common cancer in men, new research has revealed today (Thursday 1 March).
Data commissioned by The Prostate Cancer Charity*, to time with the launch of its annual awareness month, paints a hugely varied picture of how misinformation and misunderstanding can stop men seeking the help they need.
Prostate cancer is often a symptomless disease, and an awareness of risk factors - such as getting older - is key for men being vigilant against the disease. However, just one in three men over 45 (34 per cent) were able to identify any of the factors which could increase their risk of the disease which kills one man every hour in the UK.
A significant lack of action could also be holding some men back from finding out they have the disease in time - with evidence showing that less than half of men (48 per cent) concerned about prostate cancer have visited the doctor.
Where a man lives is also appears to be an important predictor in whether he will confront his concerns, with three out of five men in South East England having visited the doctor, whilst conversely the same proportion of men in London claim they have not talked to a doctor about their worries.
This disturbing inaction is compounded by further evidence which shows that almost over a quarter of men with a concern (27 per cent) won't speak to a doctor because they simply believe prostate problems are not urgent.
The Charity is using the awareness month to highlight the urgent need for men across the country to be aware that prostate cancer is a disease which can strike 'out of the blue' often without symptoms or prior warning. The Charity wants to encourage all men over 50, and younger men at a higher risk of prostate cancer**, to face up to their health worries.
Owen Sharp, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, explains: "It is disturbing to see so many men needlessly risking their health by putting off confronting their concerns about prostate cancer. Not all men who are worried about prostate cancer will have the disease. Yet for those for whom this disease will become a reality, a timely chat with their GP may make all the difference.
"Interestingly, our research has shown that where a man lives is also a big indicator of whether they speak to a doctor about their health concerns, with men in some parts of the country almost twice as likely to visit their doctor than those living just a few miles away - in effect creating a postcode lottery of inaction which cannot continue.
"We certainly don't want men to panic about getting prostate cancer as they get older, but equally with the government refusing to make awareness of prostate cancer a priority, it is important that men do take action on the disease."
During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month thousands of individuals and groups across the UK will join forces to increase understanding of the disease as well as its potential signs and symptoms. High street retailer Marks & Spencer is also throwing its weight behind the campaign and will be donating 10 per cent of the retail selling value of selected shirts from M&S' Blue Harbour range*** to The Prostate Cancer Charity between 1-21 March. Specially designed pin badges and bottle openers will also be available throughout the month, for a suggested donation.
Anyone wanting more information can visit www.prostateaware.org.uk
*The Prostate Cancer Charity commissioned Dr Foster Intelligence to carry out a public awareness survey. 3,671 men and women were interviewed face-to-face during February 2011 and results were nationally weighted.