Survey uncovers lack of knowledge about prostate cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

Only a third of men know what their prostate does and many would look for excuses not to visit a doctor if they thought there might be something wrong with it, a new study has found.

The Prostate Cancer Charity commissioned an ICM poll to coincide with Prostate Cancer Awareness Week.

One of the key findings was that only 33 per cent of men knew that the prostate gland, which produces the thick clear fluid in semen, was important for sexual function.

However, this represents a marked improvement over last year, when a similar poll found that only 13 per cent of men knew what the prostate gland does.

The survey also found that many men would ignore frequent night-time urination, which is a common symptom of poor prostate health.

While it is often caused by an enlarged gland, the symptom may in some cases be a sign of prostate cancer.

The risk of prostate cancer increases with age and is also more common in men who have a father or brother with the disease. It is also three times more common among men of African Caribbean descent.

Nearly one in three men over the age of 45 thought it was normal to urinate frequently during the night at their age, and over a quarter admitted that they would be unlikely to visit a doctor because of the difficulty getting an appointment.

Twenty-two per cent also said that they would be afraid that it might be prostate cancer, while 16 per cent admitted that they were put off by the possibility of a rectal examination.

The charity's chief executive, John Neate, said: "We certainly don't want men to panic about getting prostate cancer, but we do want far more men to be aware of their risks of this disease and their health in general.

"Until men have been to a GP, they won't know why they are getting up several times at night to pee," he continued.

"Although this can be a symptom of prostate cancer, it can also be due to treatable age-related, benign changes in the prostate. It is concerning that a fear of a prostate cancer diagnosis might stop men taking the first vital steps to understanding what is wrong with them."