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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK


At-risk men 'unaware' of cancer threat

Surveys regularly show men are ignorant of cancer risk

More than two thirds of men most susceptible to testicular cancer are totally ignorant about the disease, according to research published on Thursday.

Toby Sealey: Institute hopes to build first research centre dedicated to men's health
The survey, by a leading cancer charity, reveals a wide gulf in awareness and funding between men's and women's health issues.

More than nine out of 10 cases of testicular cancer can be cured if the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, but many men are dying unnecessarily because they leave it too late to seek medical advice.

[ image:  ]
The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) survey said that the vast majority of men between 15 and 34 know little or nothing about testicular cancer.

Yet it is within this age group that the disease is most likely to strike.

The number of cases has doubled in the last 20 years, and it is now the most common form of cancer in young men.

Nearly 1,000 men were questioned about their attitudes towards male health.

Only 26% of men surveyed said they knew a great deal or a fair amount about testicular cancer.

Less than half (49%) of those in the 15-34 age bracket said they ever examined their testicles for lumps.

The research also revealed that just 8% of 15 to 34 year olds named personal health issues as a frequent topic for discussion.

BBC Breakfast News discusses the reasons for the increase in testicular cancer
The ICR now plans a widespread advertising campaign to improve awareness and hopes to raise enough money to build the first cancer research centre dedicated to men's health.

It released its findings as it launched the second Everyman Male Cancer Awareness Month.

It will publicise facts about and attitudes towards male cancers.

[ image: Clare Moynihan urged all men to carry out testicular checks]
Clare Moynihan urged all men to carry out testicular checks
As well as the survey, the institute will launch a "Perkin" badge to publicise the issue.

The design of the Perkin is meant to represent the male chromosome.

It is the second high-profile attempt to raise male cancer awareness to be launched within the space of a week.

Last Sunday it was reported that supermarket chain Tesco was planning to sew labels into men's underwear explaining how to check for testicular cancer.

Professor Colin Cooper, of the ICR, said: "This research reinforces the urgency there is for more widely available information, for an environment in which men feel more relaxed about personal health matters and in which they are encouraged to take prompt action where necessary."

[ image:  ]
Clare Moynihan, of the Institute of Cancer Research, said nobody knew why testicular cancer was becoming more common.

She said that, although men aged 25-35 were most at risk, she was aware of a boy of nine developing the disease.

Ms Moynihan has conducted interviews with men who have not got cancer which confirmed that men did not speak to each other about cancer or health in general.

"My research has also shown that there is little communication between men in families which have a history of prostate cancer or testicular cancer, and this is serious in the context of genetic disease where it is crucial for family members to talk."

The ICR is also launching an appeal for more funding for research into prostate cancer which kills 11,000 men in the UK each year.

Only £1m a year is spent at the moment, compared with £16m on breast cancer research.

A series of surveys have shown that men are largely unaware of the health risks they face.

Last October, a poll for the charity Marie Curie Cancer Care showed that only 23% of men felt well informed about the cancers which most affected them and more than half admitted their wives or partners knew more about the subject.

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