Men's health

Men in the dark about prostate cancer test

Zone default image At risk men unaware of blood test

Seven out of ten men who are at an increased risk of prostate cancer don't know about the blood test which can detect early signs of the disease, new research has shown.

And one in five men at risk from the disease who ask for a PSA blood test are turned down by their GP.

In addition, results from the survey also revealed that men from less affluent backgrounds were three times less likely to ask for a PSA test than those from higher socio-economic groups, and were more likely to be in the dark about the test.

The use of the PSA test used to detect prostate cancer is hotly debated in medicine. On one hand it may detect an agressive form of prostate cancer in it's early stages, but it can also detect slow growing forms the of disease leading to over diagnosis and even unnecessary treatment, say some doctors.

The results of the survey were released to mark the launch of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

John Neate, Chief Executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, who commissioned the survey said: “Interest in the usefulness of the PSA test as a screening tool has grown considerably over the past year. Although it is far from perfect, the test is the first step along the road to diagnosing prostate cancer.

"For many men, undergoing a PSA test could expose a slow growing cancer which may never cause them a problem - even without treatment.

"At the same time, for men with an aggressive cancer, who have no symptoms of the disease, the test may be the only way the disease will be identified at a time when effective treatment can be offered.

"The decision on whether to have the PSA test must therefore be made by men themselves - based on unbiased advice about its pros and cons."

This article was published on Tue 2 March 2010

Image © Andrey Ushakov -

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