A new survey by the Prostate Research Campaign UK illustrates the difficulties in targeting health services at men. More than 80% of the men surveyed claimed to book their GP appointments themselves - but 39% of their wives or partners said that in fact it was they who did it.
For this reason, the Prostate Research Campaign UK has launched an initiative called Ignorance Isn't Bliss to get women to look out for signs of prostate cancer. Not physically — even the most loving of wives would surely draw the line at a home digital rectal examination — but for the tell-tale symptoms: frequent visits to the toilet in the night, difficulty urinating or a burning sensation when peeing.
The MORI survey of 1,361 adults aged 40 and over certainly found widespread ignorance. Nine men in every ten do not know the purpose of the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. Women were better informed with 70% able to name at least one of the symptoms.
The survey also showed that 77% of men would discuss a serious health issue with women before seeing a doctor.
Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, said: 'Eighty per cent of all GP consultations with men take place because their female partner told them to go.' He said that observant GPs could often detect a prostate problem in men, not because they go to the surgery but because their partners do. 'Women appear in their late fifties asking for sleeping pills when previously they have never had a problem. The reason is that their male partner is getting up to have a pee two or three times in the night because of an enlarged prostate. If GPs give the women the sleeping tablets, they are treating the wrong person.'
The widespread ignorance of a cancer that kills 10,000 men in the UK every year is worrying and suggests that all the increased male health infoirmation available in recent years has failed to reach its target audience. Whether that is a good reason to revert to the old tactic of reaching men through women is a moot point for the men's health movement.
Page created on April 26th, 2004
Page updated on December 1st, 2009