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Fear “makes cancer men shun help”

A Birmingham University team quizzed 20 men with prostate cancer about how they made the decision to consult a doctor. One of the key themes that emerged was that men often recognised they may have the symptoms of a serious disease.

But they delayed going to a GP because of fear of diagnosis and the fact it was not “macho” to seek help, said the British Journal of Health Psychology.

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer, with more than 30,000 new cases a year – one-third of whom die.

It affects the prostate gland, which is found near the bladder in men and produces one component of semen. Symptoms include pain when urinating or ejaculating, blood in the semen or urine and pain in the lower back, hips or thighs. Researchers interviewed men aged 51 to 75 who all had prostate cancer. The report said several themes emerged as to why they delayed seeking help.

The respondents said that they felt male GPs often had negative attitudes towards men and that they were also concerned by the prospect of rectal examinations, which are used to help diagnose prostate cancer.

Lead researcher Dr Susan Hale said: “This suggests that, far from ignoring the symptoms or being uncaring about their health, men are extremely anxious.