24 April 2012
A lack of awareness and a fear of seeking out a GP's advice about a potential problem are among the main reasons why male cancers are not as highly publicised as female cancers.
This is the opinion of Rebecca Porta, chief executive at Orchid Cancer Appeal, who was speaking about the problem as the UK marks Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week.
Taking place between April 23rd and 29th, the occasion hopes to get more people educated into the health risks that cancers present to men.
According to Orchid Cancer Appeal, more than 37,000 men are diagnosed with penile, prostate or testicular cancer each year.
Ms Porta acknowledged that the statistics for male cancers are very close in number to that of breast cancer cases.
However, the expert pointed out that women are much better at taking action and checking to see if they are displaying symptoms of breast cancer.
On top of this, women are educated – through their school curriculum or family members – to visit a GP any time they fear that they have contracted the life-threatening disease.
"We commissioned a piece of research looking at the awareness of breast versus male specific cancers and what we found was that men were much more knowledgeable about breast cancer then they were about testicular cancer," Ms Porta added.
In the study, Orchid Cancer Appeal highlighted that one in three men knew much more about breast cancer than they did regarding the most common male cancers.
For instance, just one in ten respondents were familiar with the causes and threats of having testicular cancer and around one in five were able to prove their knowledge regarding prostate cancer.
"You can see there is a very poor awareness of the diseases compared to breast cancer," Ms Porta stated.
Awareness was not the only problem, however, with the expert pointing out that many men get worried about seeking medical help when they realise a lump, or just choose to put it off for as long as possible.
Ms Porta warned: "They don't find it the most comfortable situation so even if they do find, for example, a lump many of them take quite a long time before they go to the GP and those weeks can make a real difference to the outcome of the disease, particularly if they have got quite an aggressive form of testicular cancer."
This caution is also the basis for this year's Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week message. In the campaign, men are being told that earlier diagnosis of male cancer heightens the chance of patients successfully being treated and recovering from the disease.
Another important message being delivered through the campaign is for men to be better educated about male cancer in the first place, so that they understand the diseases which could hinder their health and the support they can seek out.
Talking about male cancers and having friends and family there for support are also vital when men are battling penile, prostate or testicular cancer, Orchid Cancer Appeal underlined.
Ms Porta was keen to note though that awareness of male cancers in recent years has improved due to actions taking in the celebrity world.
She explained: "So you have got high profile celebrities talking about their battle with male cancer, they are campaigning about improving awareness of the disease.
"I think we have got much better at doing that but we have still got a long way to go."
The Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week marks its fourth anniversary in 2012, with the occasion already marked when 35 runners for the campaign took part in the 26.2-mile Virgin London Marathon.
People looking to support the campaign can also purchase a special Orchid t-shirt, which has been designed by London College of Fashion Third Year Fashion Illustration student, Sasha Helim.
Of course, men can mark Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week by looking for symptoms of male cancer on their own bodies and consulting with a GP should they notice a means for concern.
Posted by Philip Briggs
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