Men are being urged to look out for the signs of male cancers as a new survey reveals a ‘worrying lack’ of awareness of prostate cancer in particular, including its symptoms and risk factors.
In Male Cancer Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday, male cancer charity Orchid has released new figures showing that nearly a third of men in the UK know ‘nothing’ about prostate cancer. Nearly two thirds of men wouldn’t be confident about recognising the signs, whilst more than half of black African and black Caribbean men are unaware that their ethnicity affects their risk of developing prostate cancer.
In a separate report called Prostate Cancer: Britain’s Growing Problem, Orchid also highlights a ‘worrying trend’ in late prostate cancer diagnosis, with nearly four in 10 cases of prostate cancer being diagnosed in the late stages, stages 3 and 4.
The former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull revealed last month that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer whilst filming Channel 4’s The Great Celebrity Bake Off - which raises money for the Stand Up To Cancer campaign. The 62-year-old was diagnosed last November, by which time the cancer had spread to his legs, hips, pelvis and ribs, and said he was ‘cross’ with himself for not going to see his doctor sooner.
Orchid’s survey and report reveal that:
- 37% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in stages 3 and 4
- 42% of prostate cancer patients saw their GP with symptoms twice or more before they were referred. Six percent were seen five or more times before referral
- 4% of men in the UK say that they know ‘nothing’ about prostate cancer
- 4% of men are not confident in identifying the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
- Men over the age of 45 are the least knowledgeable when it comes to prostate cancer
- 57% of black African and black Caribbean men are not aware that their ethnicity affects their risk of developing prostate cancer
- 8% of men with a family history of prostate cancer are not aware that this also increases their risk of developing the disease
Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta said: “It’s not acceptable that we are seeing 40% of prostate cancer diagnoses in the late stage, and a mortality rate that is unnecessarily high. Too many men are not facing up to prostate cancer and their own individual risk and they are not seeking help and advice earlier enough.
“If we can tackle this from both sides, by getting many more men and GPs to talk about prostate cancer risk, we can help to improve outcomes in the longer term – both for patients and the health service.”
Orchid’s ‘F.A.C.E. up to prostate cancer’ campaign encourages men to remember four key risk factors:
- Family history (having a father or brother with the illness)
- Age (prostate cancer tends to affect men over 50)
- Change in urinary habits
Actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry also recently underwent surgery for prostate cancer, which is set to rise dramatically in the next 10 years. Prime Minister Theresa May this week set out ambitious new plans to help thousands of men with prostate cancer get treated earlier and faster, announcing funding of £75m to support new research, which will include more than 40,000 men taking part in key studies. It was also announced last month that the NHS is piloting cutting edge technology at three hospitals in London to help reduce prostate cancer diagnosis times from six weeks to one day.
Having the right kind of health insurance can speed up a cancer diagnosis, as well as cover you for treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapies in a hospital of your choice. In addition, critical illness insurance can take away the worry of having to work and pay the bills in the event of a diagnosis, allowing you to focus on treatment and recovery.
Now in its tenth year, Male Cancer Awareness Week highlights a number of male-specific cancers, including testicular and penile cancer as well prostate cancer. For practical advice, support and information on detection, diagnosis and treatment, visit www.orchid-cancer.org.uk or, to speak to a specialist male cancer nurse, call the freephone helpline on 0808 802 0010.