The Irish Cancer Society said only 8% of men are aware they have a one in 12 chance of suffering from the disease, while 23% don’t know what the prostate gland is.
Launching Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, the charity set out to encourage GPs to discuss the condition with patients at risk.
Consultant radiation oncologist Professor John Armstrong said there was still an immense amount of work to do in reaching out to men on the risk of developing prostate cancer.
“The need to be prostate aware and take action as early detection can aid longer term survival,” he said.
“We would ask GPs to partner with us in this task and raise the issue of prostate cancer when seeing men over 50 years and especially if those men have a family history of prostate cancer.”
Latest data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland revealed 2,406 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in 2005, with 88% of these over 50 years of age.
It estimates there will be a 275% increase in sufferers by 2020.
Action Prostate Cancer has handled 6,667 enquiries from people concerned about the disease since it was launched in April 2006.
In a survey of 1,000 men aged over 50, it found only 37% claim their GP was taking action and opening discussions with them on the risk of developing prostate cancer and merits of screening and early detection of prostate cancer.
Almost nine out of 10 said they would go to their GP for reliable information on prostate cancer.
But 12% said they would be uncomfortable discussing the condition with a female GP.
It also found 74% knew that difficulty in passing urine and/or passing urine more frequently than usual, especially at night, is the symptom that might signify early stage prostate cancer.