Confusion around prostate cancer symptoms could be leading fewer men to get tested, with a fifth (19%) admitting they don’t know what a prostate is and 93% unable to identify all the potential symptoms from a list.
According to the Bupa Wellbeing Index, two-thirds of men (66%) aged over 50 who haven’t previously had prostate cancer said they had never been checked for the illness.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the UK, with an estimated 52,300 new cases every year.
There is currently no national screening programme in place for prostate cancer in the UK, meaning there is more reliance on people monitoring for potential symptoms than with other forms of cancer, such as breast or bowel.
The index research asked 8,000 UK adults questions about their general health and wellbeing.
Cancer and work
Of the men aged over 50 who hadn’t previously had prostate cancer, just 20% said they had been screened or checked within the past two years.
The survey also found significant levels of confusion surrounding the condition. When quizzed about the potential symptoms of prostate cancer, as well as the 93% who were unable to identify all the potential symptoms, 23% didn’t get any possible symptoms correct.
Speed of access is a critical barrier to getting checked, the Bupa research also concluded. One in six (16%) said they worried it would take too long to get appointments and tests organised for prostate cancer checks.
Embarrassment was another barrier to diagnosis, with a tenth (10%) of over-50s saying they have avoided appointments because of worries about a digital rectal examination. A further 8% said they worried about it being a painful process.
Dr Tim Woodman, medical director for Bupa health insurance, said “Having had treatment for prostate cancer myself, I know first-hand how important it is to be aware of the symptoms and seek specialist help fast when something isn’t right. With cancer, speed is of the essence and early diagnosis and treatment saves lives. It’s also really important to know if you’re at higher risk because of your age, ethnicity, or family history.”