Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Tuesday, June 2, 1998 Published at 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK


Men ignorant about growing cancer risk

Most men are ignorant about prostate cancer and its treatment

Men know more about breast cancer than about prostate cancer, despite the fact that it is likely to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK by 2018.

A survey by the Institute of Cancer Research found that only around 20% of men questioned said they knew a great deal or a fair amount about the disease, compared with 29% who knew about breast cancer and 51% who felt knowledgeable about heart disease.

Experts say the problem is that men are generally ignorant about their health and tend to be embarrassed about prostate and testicular problems.


Another problem is funding into prostate research. Around 1m a year is spent on research into prostate cancer, compared with 15m on breast cancer.

Ninety per cent of men questioned in the survey said they had no knowledge of the main diagnostic blood test for prostate cancer, known as the PSA (positive specific antigen) test. The figure for men over 45 - the highest risk group for the cancer - was 84%.

The test, which could be used as part of a national screening programme, identifies a protein in the blood which is linked to prostate cancer.

On the rise

Professor Colin Cooper, of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "Cases of these cancers are on the increase and prostate is predicted to overtake lung and breast to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Britain by 2018 if national PSA testing for the disease is introduced."

[ image: Experts claim prostate research is underfunded]
Experts claim prostate research is underfunded
A fifth of men who show positive results in the PSA test will not have malignant cancer and experts want extra funding so alternatives can be developed.

A third of men questioned by the Institute of Cancer Research said they would take the test if it was available nationally.

Prostate cancer can only be cured with early intervention. Treatment carries a 90% risk of impotence and a 20% risk of incontinence.

Despite this, over 60% of men questioned by the institute said they woud be prepared to suffer the side-effects if their lives could be prolonged.

The Institute of Cancer Research can be contacted on 0171 352 8133.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes
Internet Links

Prostate Cancer InfoLink

The Prostate Cancer Charity

Imperial Cancer Research Fund

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99