Half of UK adults unaware of prostate cancer risk

More than 60% of UK adults between 55 and 64 think prostate cancer has no bearing on family history, according to research by male cancer charity Orchid.

This apparent lack of awareness means some men are potentially putting themselves and their children at risk by not sharing critical health information which could help diagnose and treat the disease in its early stages. The research found that over half of all men (51%) and women (55%) believed prostate cancer risk is independent of family history.

Men with a father, brother or any other blood relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer are two times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men with no affected relatives. The younger the relative is, the higher the risk is of developing the disease.

Rebecca Porta, Chief Executive of Orchid comments, “We all have a role to play in sharing information about our health with family members.For example, most of us accept that mothers will openly discuss a history of breast cancer with their daughters to encourage them to check their breasts on a regular basis. We want men to do the same. Male cancer awareness is a significant problem in the UK today. But thousands of men could be helped every year with just more knowledge and a proactive approach in seeking advice and treatment. We’re calling on all men to share information on their experiences of prostate cancer with their families and to encourage family members to seek advice from their GP if they have any concerns.”

In light of this new research, Orchid is launching ‘Some Things Are Worth Sharing’ – a new campaign to mark its Male Cancer Awareness Week (12-18 April 2010). The campaign is calling on family members to talk openly about male cancers and who has been affected, encouraging them to be proactive in checking for signs and symptoms of prostate cancer and seeking medical advice if they think they may be at risk.

The research revealed that men over 55 years – those most at risk of developing the disease – believe it would make no difference to them seeking help and advice if a male member of their family was diagnosed with cancer. Younger people are most likely to make themselves more aware of the risks.

Orchid’s new hereditary prostate cancer factsheet is available to download for free at www.orchid-cancer.org.uk.

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