Low prostate cancer awareness among Singapore women: Survey

PHOTO: Low prostate cancer awareness among Singapore women: Survey

SINGAPORE - A new national survey has revealed that many Singaporean wives are not aware and have little knowledge of prostate cancer.

Thirty per cent of the respondents said that they do not have any knowledge of prostate cancer and 48 per cent said that they are unaware that prostate cancer is one of the top five male cancers in Singapore.

Only one in four wives knew the risk factor of prostate cancer is higher if there is family history of the condition and only one in two wives are aware that prostate cancer does not necessarily come with accompanying symptoms.

The survey also revealed that one in three wives have no knowledge of even where the prostate gland is located.

Among the 207 female respondents interviewed, about one in four husbands had either symptoms suggestive of a prostate problem - for example, frequent toilet trips in the night and difficulty in urination.

Of this number, two in three have consulted the doctor about these symptoms.

Reasons cited by the wives whose husbands persist in not seeking medical advice include complacency due to ageing, embarrassment, lack of time and a desire to avoid the issue.

The independent survey involved more than 200 female respondents, whose husbands or partners were aged 50 years and older. It was commissioned by the Singapore Cancer Society (SCS), Society for Men's Health Singapore (SMHS) and Janssen, a leading global pharmaceutical company.

As women traditionally take on the role of caregiver of the family, SMHS and SCS are urging Singaporean wives to be the vigilant gatekeeper in the fight against prostate disease.

Dr Colin Teo, President for SMHS and Head of Department & Consultant Urologist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said, "Prostate enlargement, or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, will affect almost all men to some extent.

"However Singaporean men might still be bottling up their health problems, and many do find it harder to unburden about prostate woes, due to the association with erectile dysfunction and incontinence.

"Wives have a vital role to play in stepping up, and help change the prevailing situation of silence, and to encourage their husbands to be vigilant on their prostate health, particularly prostate cancer - the third most common cancer among Singapore men."

As early diagnosis is key to better treatment outcomes, SCS is launching the Prostate Cancer Survivorship Programme from June 2013.

The first two nation-wide initiatives to be launched under the Programme is a prostate cancer patient support group and a dedicated exercise programme for men with advanced prostate cancer.

For both activities, SCS will be working with hospitals island-wide to include prostate cancer patients into its activities.

Said Dr Henry Ho, Chairman of the SCS Prostate Cancer Survivorship Programme and Consultant, Department of Urology, Singapore General Hospital, "Through our patient support group activities, we want the patients to know that they are not alone in this fight against prostate cancer. We emphasise on active involvement of the family members, particularly their wives, so that they get better understanding and help. This will enhance their sense of wellbeing; mentally, physically and socially."

Prostate cancer is usually found in ageing men, aged 60 years and above.

Research shows that Singapore men have a one in 37 chance of developing prostate cancer in their lifetime. More than 500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and the risk of developing prostate cancer has increased 5.7 times over the past 40 years

By 2030, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is expected to increase as one in five Singaporean residents will be aged 65 and above.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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