4 in 10 Canadian Men Don't Know what their Prostate Gland Does

Three 'P's - Prostate, PSA, Prevention - critical for men's health

TORONTO, Nov. 1, 2011 /CNW/ - November marks the sporting of moustaches on thousands of men's faces to raise funds and awareness of prostate cancer. And awareness needs to begin with basic anatomy. According to a national survey, 4 in 10 Canadian men between 20 and 49 don't know their prostate's primary function is to produce fluid in semen and is vital to sexual function.

"It's well known men put off seeing their doctors, but it's important for them to take charge of their health, educate themselves, and talk to their doctor about their prostate cancer risk," said Dr. R. Jeffrey Karnes, urologist, Mayo Clinic. "From its function, to PSA testing and prevention, it's critical for men to be informed of their preventative and screening options."

But the survey, commissioned by Mayo Clinic, revealed a general lack of knowledge regarding the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA), a common way for physicians to determine a patient's potential risk of developing prostate cancer. The test measures the amount of PSA, a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland, in the patient's blood. A surprising 50 per cent of men (aged 20-49) do not know what the PSA test is -men in Quebec being the least aware (67%) and men  in Ontario being the most aware of the test (31%).

Of survey respondents, only 37 per cent of men in the older age group (40-49) know what a PSA test is. Those in the highest income bracket ($100K+) are most likely to know about the test (34%) versus those making less than $50K (16%).

When asked if they would consider getting a PSA test at the age of 50, men in Ontario (64%) were much more likely to consider a PSA test compared to those in Quebec (52%) and British Columbia (54%). While 3 in 10 men in their 20s and 30s said they might consider a PSA test, they would have to learn more about the test before making a decision (31% of men aged 20-29 and 30% of men aged 30-39); this was true for only 21 per cent of men aged 40-49. Of particular interest, 25 per cent of those with a high school education or less had not thought about prostate cancer screening.

One hotly debated question has been the PSA test's accuracy as a predictor of the need for a biopsy and future development of low-risk cancer. A Mayo Clinic study, released on October 21, 2011, found a clear link between the test and next steps in the prostate cancer continuum of care.

"The decision to get a PSA test done is best made by the patient in consultation with their doctor, as there isn't always an easy answer," said Dr. Karnes.

Preventative steps to take now

While screening tests are typically considered at the age of 40 and over, there are steps the majority of Canadian men aren't taking now but can help in their fight against prostate cancer. Everyday actions like drinking more green tea, adding fish and soy to their meals have been linked to keeping the prostate healthy.

Interestingly, 73 per cent of men have not considered adding soy to their diets to help reduce risks. There's an important nutrient in soy called isoflavones which has been linked to fighting prostate cancer. If eating tofu isn't appealing, try adding peanuts, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils to meals - all these foods contain isoflavones. If you want to reduce your risk of prostate cancer, consider trying to:

  • Choose a low-fat diet
  • Eat more fat from plants than from animals
  • Consume more fruits and vegetables
  • Eat fatty fish
  • Drink green tea
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise most days of the week

For more information on ways to reduce your risk visit,  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prostate-cancer-prevention/MC00027

About the survey

From October 27th to October 28th, 2011, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 582 Canadian men between the ages of 20 and 49 who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The margin of error on the full base — which measures sampling variability — is +/- 4.0%. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org/canada, www.mayoclinic.com and www.mayoclinic.org/news.

SOURCE Mayo Clinic

For further information:

Linda North 
Venture Communications 
linda@openminds.ca 
416-849-1874

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Mayo Clinic

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