New research - funded by The Prostate Cancer Charity and
undertaken by the University of Stirling's Cancer Care Research
Centre - has revealed that men have a worrying tendency to delay
before going to a GP to discuss symptoms which may be an indication
of prostate cancer.
A survey of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the NHS
Greater Glasgow & Clyde area found that 85 per cent had
experienced symptoms for more than a month before contacting a
health professional. Almost half of this group, 41 per cent, waited
for more than a year before seeking medical advice about symptoms
which may be linked to prostate problems, including
This delay in seeing a GP is despite 57 per cent describing
their symptoms as 'troublesome', almost 50 per cent as 'worrying'
and 46 per cent reporting that their symptoms impacted on their
everyday lives. Almost a third felt 'depressed' as a result of
their symptoms, with a quarter describing them as 'painful.'
Eight out of ten of those who put off seeking medical assistance
did so on the basis that they thought their symptoms were just part
of the normal ageing process. Just over 20 per cent delayed due to
being 'embarrassed', with nine per cent stating they would rather
not find out if they were ill.
Despite prostate cancer being the most common cancer in men in
Scotland, half of the men surveyed - who were all diagnosed with
prostate cancer - believed they were at a low risk of developing
The publication of the research coincides with Prostate Cancer
Awareness Month, which runs throughout March.
Commenting on the findings Ann Ferguson, Head of Operations at
The Prostate Cancer Charity in Scotland, said: "This research
offers a valuable insight into understanding how many men delay
visiting their GP even if they are concerned about symptoms that
could be related to prostate cancer, and why they do so.
"Although in some men prostate cancer can be slow-growing,
others will have an aggressive form of the disease - where time is
very much of the essence. The earlier prostate cancer can be
detected the higher the chance there is of it being treated
successfully. The Prostate Cancer Charity would therefore
encourage men not to delay seeking medical advice on experiencing
symptoms such as changes in urinary habits."
Dr Liz Forbat from the University of Stirling's Cancer Care
Research Centre, said: "Knowledge of prostate cancer appears to be
low even amongst those who are most at-risk. To increase men's
timely diagnosis of prostate cancer it is essential that
information about the factors which may increase a man's
susceptibility to the disease, including age and family history,
are effectively communicated.
"Our research indicated that a viable intervention would be one
that draws on informal networks - such as social and sports clubs
and family relationships - to encourage men who are most at risk of
the disease to discuss with a health practitioner about whether
having a PSA test is right for them."