Two thirds of men 'ignorant' of prostate cancer risks

Less than one third of men know age is the single biggest risk factor in developing prostate cancer, it emerged today.

Less than one third of men know age is the single biggest risk factor in developing prostate cancer, it emerged today.

The Irish Cancer Society revealed only 8% 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 (APC) – an Irish Cancer Society initiative – 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.

Furthermore only 42% of men in the 50-64 year old age group made this claim and 28% of men in the 65-plus age group, when the biggest risk factor for developing prostate cancer is increasing age.

Almost nine out of 10 said they would go to their GP for reliable information on prostate cancer, but 12% 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.

Finally 40% said that their partners had a significant role to play in prompting them to consider their health and cancer related issues.

Sonya Bowen, of the Irish Cancer Society said, said there was still no screening programme for prostate cancer in Ireland.

“Inequity of access and waiting times for prostate cancer services in public services must also be eliminated so that men with suspected prostate cancer are referred quickly and in a consistent manner and see a Consultant Urologist without delay for further tests to check the diagnosis,” she added.

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