Many men ‘in the dark’ when it comes to prostate cancer: study

A university study says many men are not up to speed when it comes to prostate cancer. Kael Donnelly / Global News

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in men.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, in 2017 prostate cancer accounted for 21 per cent of new cancer cases, and 10 per cent of cancer-related deaths.

A new study by UBC says men aren’t up to speed when it comes to their knowledge about prostate cancer.

“In terms of health literacy, there is a long history of people saying men are not up to speed,” said UBC men’s health researcher John Oliffe.

“This includes their knowledge when it comes to understanding prescription drugs and dosages, whether they know the stages of a disease and how they apply the knowledge they have.”

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UBC says health literacy is the ability to access and properly use health-related information to make good decisions when it comes to managing personal health.

“Quite often, there is so much information out there and it’s complex in terms of choice,” said research coordinator, Cherisse Seaton. “Men have some big decisions to make after diagnosis.”

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Some of those decisions can be challenging to make even, with a strong understanding of the disease.

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“Not all prostate cancers are aggressive and it can be challenging to predict if a patient has slow-growing cancer or one that is aggressive,” said Cherisse.

“The patients have to decide what type of treatment course to follow. To do that they need to be well informed and understand of all the options.”

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One of the most common and least invasive treatment is active surveillance.

Active surveillance doesn’t require surgery or ongoing treatments, and only entails waiting out the disease while consulting regularly with a doctor.

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Treatments like that aren’t as popular though, according to UBC Okanagan professor and men’s health researcher Joan Bottorff.

“There are some men who just really want to get rid of the cancer, regardless of what they are told,” says Bottorff.

“They go forward with the surgery or a more aggressive treatment than they might need, quite often from fear or lack of knowledge.”

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The study shows men rate their knowledge of health information highly, but do not have enough information to manage their personal health.

The men’s health research team has created an interactive website to help change the dialogue between healthcare professionals and men.

“Clearly, we need to find other ways to connect men with the information they are looking for,” said Bottorff.

“This website is an effort to address those information needs in a way that is accessible to men.”

For more about prostate cancer, click here.

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