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Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 23:27 GMT 00:27 UK
Threat from male cancer 'ignorance'
Prostate cancer can be treated by surgery and radiotherapy
Many men are still floundering in ignorance about cancers which could cost them their lives, a survey suggests.

Thousands will not visit their doctor, even if they have the worrying first signs of prostate cancer.

Some do not even know where their prostate gland is.

The Europe-wide survey found that 17% would wait longer than a month before visiting a doctor about any "below the belt" issue.

While sexual and bladder problems were cited as the most embarrassing, many men picked out smelly feet as another condition about which they were loath to take medical advice.

A quarter of those surveyed said this was the most humiliating problem they could imagine.

Prostate cancer is now one of the most commonly-diagnosed among UK men.

We want the government to invest more to help develop a better test for prostate cancer

Spokesman, prostate cancer charity
It is most likely to emerge in older men, and its symptoms include the need to urinate more frequently.

Far more common is another condition, benign prostate hyperplasia, which is thought to affect a quarter of men aged over 40, and one in three men over 65.

The survey uncovered a remarkable degree of ignorance about the location and function of the prostate.

While some men thought the gland was part of the chest, brain, or gut, and was there to regulate weight or maintain healthy skin, only just over a third knew its correct function, to help keep sperm healthy.

New test needed

High profile campaigns have raised men's awareness of the disease, but experts say there is some way to go.

However, the Prostate Cancer Charity says that a more reliable test is needed before men can be routinely screened.

A spokesman said: "The difficulty with prostate cancer is that symptoms may not appear until the disease has invaded the bones and is quite advanced.

"The current test (prostate specific antigen, or PSA) has a very high false positive rate.

"We want the government to invest more to help develop a better test for prostate cancer.

"In the meantime, men who have any concerns, or who come from a family where there is a history of prostate cancer, should not be afraid to get checked out.

"Very often, their embarrassment is holding them back."

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17 Mar 00 | C-D
Prostate cancer
02 Mar 00 | Health
1m for prostate cancer research
06 Sep 00 | Health
Action on killer cancer
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