Millions of men across the UK 'risking their lives' by not checking for signs of cancer

Author: The Urology Foundation

Date: Nov 2017

More than 50 per cent of men are failing to check themselves regularly for possible symptoms of testicular cancer, according to a national survey by medical charity The Urology Foundation.

Men should check themselves monthly, but the survey by The Urology Foundation – the only UK charity to fund research into all urological cancers and conditions - found that 63 per cent of men aged 18-34 do not carry out regular self- checks, despite being the age group most at risk of testicular cancer.

16 per cent of men aged 25-34 never examine themselves for the symptoms of testicular cancer and 10 per cent only check themselves yearly or less than yearly.

When compared with women, men were less likely to check for a lump in their testicles as women were to check for a lump in their breasts.

Mr Ian Eardley, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital in Leeds has warned that men are putting their lives in danger by failing to check themselves regularly.

He said; “While successful campaigns around breast cancer mean women are better at checking themselves, men are sadly a long way behind when it comes to self-examination and this needs to change.

“It’s vital that men take a few moments each month to check themselves and make an appointment to see their GP if they find a lump or pain in the testicle or swelling in the scrotum which may be a sign of cancer.

“Testicular cancer is highly curable with 90 per cent of men making a complete recovery but early intervention is important.

“Although testicular is uncommon it is one of the most common cancers in young men. While the cure rate is high, the degree of treatment needed is less if the cancer is caught early. There are benefits for patients in identifying cancer early because they can avoid the need for excessive treatment.

“If the cancer is diagnosed early, before spread, then it may be possible, in some cases to avoid chemotherapy. That will inevitably have a beneficial effect upon future fertility for those who can avoid chemotherapy, although fertility cannot be guaranteed.

“I am not at all surprised that women are better at checking themselves, men are notoriously bad at looking after their own health. All the data shows this. Men traditionally don’t look after themselves as much as women. This is to do with the male ego and burying your head in the sand mentality. We need to change that view. It makes sense to check your genitals on a frequent basis.”

Testicular cancer mostly affects those aged 15 to 44 and is the most common cancer among men in this age group. There are approximately 2,000 new cases every year.

The symptoms of testicular cancer include a painless lump or swelling in either testicle, enlargement of the testicle, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, and pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum.

Other signs can include a rapid collection of fluid in the scrotum, tenderness of the breasts or a dull ache or severe pain in the abdomen or groin.

Louise De Winter, chief executive of The Urology Foundation, said: “It is a sad fact that men are behind women when it comes to self-examination and are risking their lives as a result. Only through education and awareness can we encourage men to carry out these simple checks and potentially save their life.”

Mr Eardley has teamed up with The Urology Foundation (TUF) to launch an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging patients to seek medical advice earlier.

Throughout Urology Awareness Month, TUF will be holding radio interviews, distributing information leaflets and producing information sheets for people to download from its website.

The survey by The Urology Foundation also revealed that a quarter of people in the UK would not seek medical advice for a urological condition because of embarrassment and that 20 per cent of people who are suffering from, or know someone suffering from, a urological condition, feel ashamed.

Yet one in two people (50 per cent of the population) will be affected by a urological condition at some stage in their lifetime.

Urology is the specialty that deals with diseases of the kidneys and urinary tract in men and women. It also covers the male reproductive system, impotence, infertility, cancer and reconstruction of the genito-urinary tract. Urological conditions include some of the most common serious diseases in the UK - such as prostate cancer, bladder cancer, kidney damage and incontinence.

Each urological condition is distressing and damaging in its own way. Many are life-threatening if left untreated.

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Next review: 15 November 2020