Prostate cancer awareness lacking among men

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Men have a surprising lack of awareness about prostate cancer, according to results of a new survey. Also, the survey found that the disease has a profound emotional impact on men. A significant gap exists between the facts about prostate cancer and what men believe about the disease.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in American men, with an estimated 241,000 new cases to be diagnosed and more than 28,000 deaths from the disease expected this year. Despite these alarming statistics, many men believe that cancer of the prostate is less prevalent or less threatening than other cancers. The survey is titled “Mind Over Manhood: Misconceptions About Prostate Cancer,” and it was released by Janssen Biotech, Inc. According to the survey results, most of the men surveyed (63%) believe that they will not develop prostate cancer, and more than half (52%) believe that if diagnosed, the disease will not be fatal.

Nearly all the men surveyed also failed to identify several of the symptoms of prostate cancer. An overwhelming majority (93%) could not recognize at least two of these symptoms—urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, frequent lower back pain, infertility, swelling of the legs and feet, and weight gain—as potential signs of prostate cancer. Men who lack adequate knowledge may fail to recognize signs and symptoms and may not be diagnosed until the cancer has progressed to an advanced stage.

The survey found that 81% of men would be grateful if their partner scheduled their doctor appointments.  “Men are not the only ones affected by a prostate cancer diagnosis—it is truly a couple's disease,” said Tom Kirk of Us TOO International Education and Support Network, which has partnered with Janssen Biotech to create www.myprostatecancerroadmap.com. “No one should face prostate cancer alone, which is why it's so important for significant others to get the conversation started.”

Men are worried about the health of their love lives, as 58% reported concern about the negative impact that losing the ability to be intimate could have on their relationships. Their concern is so high that nearly a third (28%) stated that they would forgo prostate cancer treatment if there was a chance they would lose their ability to be intimate.

Men at the highest risk of prostate cancer often fail to recognize their level of risk. African American men are at a higher risk for prostate cancer than white and Hispanic men, yet nearly half of African American men (44%) say it is unlikely prostate cancer will develop, compared to 30% of all men.

“It is important that men be aware of risk factors,” said urologist Stanley K. Frencher, Jr., MD, MPH. “African American men and those with a family history are at higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer; consequently, it's of particular importance that men know their family history and share their health concerns and conditions with their family. Men need to talk with one another, father to son, brother to brother, and friend to friend about this disease, their experiences when diagnosed and how they have dealt with the impacts of treatment.”
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