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First Survey of GPs Proves That Men Put Off Going to the Doctor



Monday 5 June 2000


Seventy-three per cent of GPs say that men are not very good at talking about embarrassing medical issues, and one in five men come into the surgery much later than they should with their symptoms, according to a MORI poll carried out for The Institute of Cancer Research's everyman campaign.

In the first poll to look at GPs' attitudes to their male patients, The Institute found that doctors consider men are twice as likely as women to put off coming to see them.

This trend is confirmed by speaking to men's partners. Of the women questioned in a separate MORI poll for The Institute, 42 per cent agreed that their partner waits too long before going to see the doctor when they suspect something is wrong. Only 29 per cent of men said the same thing was true of their partners, but 55 per cent admit this is true of themselves.

So why do people put off going to see their doctor? One in 5 people said "I just kept putting it off" increasing to 1 in 4 men, and 17 per cent of people just didn't have the time, increasing marginally to 20 per cent of men. Around 1 in 5 adults and a similar proportion of men put off going to the surgery because they don't want to waste the GP's time.

For men, however, there could be another reason - the embarrassment of talking about personal health issues, even with their doctor. This is one area where men, women and GPs agreed. 73 per cent of GPs said that their male patients are not very good at communicating with their doctors about embarrassing medical conditions, and the majority of the public agreed that this was true.

Young men may put off going because they find it difficult to talk to their doctors. One in six people aged 16 -24 say they don't find it easy to talk to their doctor and just 34 per cent of people aged 16-44 say they always feel reassured by their GP. Women find it significantly easier than men to talk to their doctors, and are more likely to feel reassured.

Young people are less likely to say that they get through all the questions they want to ask their GP.

These results have important implications for the treatment of prostate and testicular cancer. Both conditions can benefit greatly from early detection and treatment so putting off a trip to the doctor, suffering from an attack of embarrassment in their surgery, and not finding it easy to talk to their GP can have a great cost. Testicular cancer is more than 96 per cent curable if it is caught and treated early.

The poll showed that men are more likely to know about breast cancer than those cancers which afflict them. Awareness of both testicular and prostate cancer has some way to go. 25 per cent of men said that they knew nothing at all about testicular cancer and 28 per cent said the same of prostate cancer. Only 24 per cent of people felt they knew a great deal or a fair amount about prostate cancer.

Professor Colin Cooper, who will head The Institute of Cancer Research's new dedicated Male Cancer Research Centre, remarked:

"This research reinforces the need for more information to be available to men. We need to break the taboos associated with male cancers and encourage men to forget their embarrassment and talk to their doctors about their worries. Men need to realise how important it is to catch any problems early on."

There is, however, one piece of good news for men who feel they're always being criticised about attitudes to their health. They are definitely getting better! 83 per cent of the GPs questioned agreed that their male patients are more health conscious today than they were 10 years ago.

Seven in ten GPs feel they have enough information about prostate health, but just approaching a quarter feel they have too little, suggesting scope for improvement if prostate cancer patients are to be diagnosed and referred quickly.

The everyman campaign was set up in September 1997 by The Institute of Cancer Research to raise awareness of and funding for male cancers. Money raised by the campaign is going towards the UK's first dedicated male cancer research centre at The Institute's site in Sutton, Surrey.


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Notes for Editors

MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1920 adults aged 16+ in Great Britain in 155 sampling points from 27 April to 3 May. Data have been weighted to the known Great Britain profile. For the GP survey MORI interviewed a representative sample of 108 GPs in Great Britain in 22 points from 2-6 May 2000.

MORI's research for The Institute of Cancer Research's everyman campaign builds on earlier studies for better prostate health and better men's health from 1991-94 and ReaderÕs Digest in 1995, and the MORI research for everyman began in 1998 and continued in 1999.

For further press information please contact The Press Office on:-
Tel: 0207 970 6030
email: [email protected]
or Michele Corrado at MORI on 020 7928 5955

Please note:
Unfortunately the press office are unable to answer queries from the general public. For general cancer information please refer to The Institute's cancer information page.

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