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'Deadly' lack of information on prostate cancer

Most GPs (90%) do not initiate potentially life-saving discussions about prostate disease with men who do not have symptoms but are in a high-risk group. 

A new campaign launched by Prostate Cancer UK aims to encourage men to take more initiative with their own health. 

Men United v Prostate Cancer aims to provide information that could save lives. 

According to Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, men are "dying of ignorance". 

He said: "If the system were more geared to men, GPs would be alerting them to their risk, and explaining their options as a matter of course. But it's not happening and that's one reason whywe're launching Men United - because information can literally save lives." 

Although the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, typically from a man's fifties, the nationwide survey shows that in 2014 only one GP in ten broaches the issue of prostate health with men of 50 and over who do not display symptoms.   

In most cases prostate cancer lacks symptoms. The test for the disease is not reliable enough to warrant introducing the kind of screening programme which would automatically call men in to discuss the issue, the charity claims. 

The lack of symptoms also means the disease is excluded from key public health initiatives such as Be Clear on Cancer. 

Because of their raised risk of developing prostate cancer, men over 50 are entitled to a test on the NHS if they have discussed the pros and cons with a doctor or nurse professional.

'Unashamedly masculine'

Owen Sharp said: “Prostate cancer is one of the UK's deadliest man killers. However, in the absence of symptoms and screening, awareness of their risk and a chat with a healthcare professional is probably the best weapon men have against the disease.

"Yet we know that many men have no inkling of what their level of risk is, and very few have even heard of the test. Today's research shows that the system is not reaching out to men in the way that Men United will.”

Men United, launched by comedian Bill Bailey, is an "unashamedly masculine" campaign which uses the language of sport to engage the nation's men and prepare them to face up to the difficult decisions which come with the knowledge of it. 

During the integrated television, print and digital campaign, running until the end of March, men - and women - will be encouraged to go online to search Men United and to get involved by testing their knowledge of the disease.

Bill Bailey said: “We need men to sign for the team in their thousands. We're determined to make this as massive for blokes as the breast cancer campaign has been for women," said Bill Bailey, whose own father-in-law is one of the 250,000 men in the UK living with the disease.

There are three red flags known to indicate heightened risk of prostate cancer. They are being aged 50 or over; being of Black African or African Caribbean ancestry; and having a close male relative who has been diagnosed with the disease.