Men ignore testicular cancer risk

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The Independent Online
MORE THAN two-thirds of young men know little or nothing about testicular cancer despite being the most likely victims of the disease, according to the Institute of Cancer Research. Testicular cancer is doubling every 20 years and is the commonest cancer among young men, with 1,400 developing the disease in 1996. It mostly affects men between the ages of 24 and 35 but can occur in boys of 15.

Men are advised to check their testicles for lumps regularly but a Mori poll for the institute found half of those aged 15 to 34 had never done so. They were also much less likely to discuss health matters than women. Only 8 per cent said health was a frequent subject, compared with 59 per cent of women.

Launching a campaign to increase awareness of male cancers yesterday, Professor Colin Cooper of the institute said: "This research reinforces the urgency for more widely available information, for an environment in which men feel more relaxed about personal health matters and in which they are encouraged to take prompt action when necessary"

Clare Moynihan, medical sociologist at the institute, said her research had shown men with cancer preferred not to discuss it. "There is little communication between men in families which have a history of prostate or testicular cancer. This is serious in the context of genetic diseases where it is crucial for family members to talk."

The survey found there was widespread ignorance of testicular cancer. Half of the men questioned thought it caused infertility and more than a third cited impotence but neither is a high risk. They estimated the cure rate at almost two- thirds when in reality almost 96 per cent are cured.

Prostate cancer, which affects older men, causing 11,000 deaths a year, is predicted to overtake breast and lung cancer to become the commonest cancer in the UK but only a quarter of men said they knew about the disease.