Posted on 13/06/2019

Shocking inaccuracies found in knowledge of mens health

Shocking inaccuracies found in knowledge of mens health

This year, Mens Health Week is focussing on “Mens Health by Numbers”, which is why we recently launched a nationwide survey to discover how many men across the UK consider their health as an important issue.

We wanted to find out exactly how many men in the UK had ever attended a health check at their local doctor’s surgery and also ask what they think a mens health check involves. We were also interested in knowing what symptoms would prompt men across the UK to visit their GP and how long they would need to experience these symptoms before booking an appointment.

Additionally, we took this opportunity to ask participants how much they know about testicular and prostate cancer, including whether they would consider visiting the doctor if they found a lump in their testicles, or if they were invited for a prostate exam. Some of the results were pretty eye-opening and we hope that by sharing them with you now, we can raise more awareness of where more work needs to be done when it comes to mens health.

Mens health checks need more attention

Results showed that 56% of the men surveyed had never had a health check at their doctor’s surgery and over half mistakenly believe that a health check involves examining your prostate, which is does not. In actual fact, a mens health check includes:

  • Measuring your height and weight
  • Having a blood test
  • Checking your cholesterol level
  • Checking your blood pressure

Moreover, only 38% of men are correct in thinking a health check takes 20 minutes; over 30% mistakenly believe it takes 10 minutes and the rest believe it can take up to 30 minutes or even an hour. Being misinformed about the time a health check takes, combined with the fact over half of men mistakenly believe they will also have their prostate examined, may be 2 contributing factors as to why 56% of the those who took part in the survey have never had a health check with their GP.

Severity of symptoms does make a difference

According to the results, men tend to wait a few weeks before going to the doctors, with 35% admitting it would depend on how severe their symptoms were before visiting their GP. This is reflected in the other questions we asked.

For example, 56% of men admitted there is no chance at all they would visit the doctor with a mild illness such as a headache, chesty cough or aching back, with a further 37% saying there’s only a “small chance” they would consider going to the doctors.

However, over 52% said there is a “likely” chance or higher of them visiting the doctor when experiencing more serious symptoms such as throwing up, breathlessness and dizziness. It is worth noting that 10% of survey participants admitted there is no chance at all they would visit their doctor when experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, which could be seen as a cause for concern.

Thankfully, 49% of men who took part in the survey said they are happy to go to the doctors, although this does mean that over half of the men involved in the survey selected various reasons why they would NOT visit their doctor’s surgery, with the top three being:

  • “I can’t get an appointment”
  • “I’m too busy to make an appointment”
  • “I’m embarrassed about talking to the doctor”

The top point in particular is worrying as it would suggest that, despite men, and women, wanting to look after themselves and their health, there isn’t the availability to do so at every doctor’s surgery.

Knowledge of testicular and prostate cancer is inaccurate

One of the more positive results to come from the survey was that 90% of those who took part said they would go to the doctors if they found a lump in their testicles – very good news indeed! However, knowledge of potential signs of testicular cancer is sketchy at best. Although 89% of men recognise a “Lump in the testicles” as a symptom of testicular cancer, other symptoms are less well-known:

  • Pain or discomfort in the scrotum area (recognised by 62% of men)
  • Feeling the testicles are swollen (recognised by 50% of men)
  • Feeling the testicles or scrotum is heavier than normal (recognised by 39% of men)

When it comes to survival rate for early diagnosed testicular cancer, 41% of participants were correct in saying it is 98%. However, over 54% of men believe that if testicular cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is between 60 – 78% and, shockingly, 37 men who took part in the quiz thought the survival rate was only 25%!

Perhaps one of the most eye-opening results to come to light was that only 12% of men who took part in the survey know that approximately 2000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer in the UK each year – 88% think the number is MUCH higher, with some believing it to be 10x as high, up to 20,000.

When asked about whether they would attend a prostate exam, over 50% of men surveyed admitted they would only go for one if they thought something was wrong and, distressingly, 44 men admitted they would NOT attend a prostate exam if invited for one.

Not only that, but results showed a completely opposite view on prostate cancer when compared to testicular cancer. Where the majority of men surveyed believe testicular cancer to be more common than it really is, many think prostate cancer is much rarer than in reality.

Only 19% of participants know that approximately 41,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year – nearly 21x more men than are diagnosed with testicular cancer. 81% of men who took part in the survey think the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is much lower, with a large number believing the figure is only around 5000 – a shocking inaccuracy.

Mens health in conclusion

There are certain conclusions we can make based on the results of our nationwide survey. Firstly, there are indeed many men in the UK who consider their own health to be very important, with 49% of participants being happy to visit their GP should they feel unwell and need guidance on what their symptoms could mean.

This being said, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to medical professionals raising awareness of the services available at local health practices, such as mens health checks and what they involve, in order to encourage more men to visit their doctor for a health “MOT” without the worry of having an intrusive test like a prostate exam. Availability of appointments is also something that some local health practices need to address so that those who need to can see their GP in a timely manner.

Perhaps the most important thing we’ve found through launching the survey is the shocking knowledge inaccuracy between testicular and prostate cancer. When it comes to mens health, more awareness needs to be raised about these two conditions and certain facts put straight so that men across the UK are fully aware of both the symptoms to look out for and the risk they may be at of developing either of these cancers.

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