Addressing Fear and Dread of Prostate Cancer Screening

To determine what Americans know—and think they know—about prostate cancer, the PCF surveyed more than 2000 adults in the United States and uncovered some misperceptions that might prevent men who are at risk from accessing screening.

Forty-two percent of men say fear and dread of discomfort are two of the main reasons they do not to get screened for prostate cancer, according to a new report from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). However, most might be surprised to know that initial prostate cancer screening could be a simple blood test.

To determine what Americans know—and think they know—about prostate cancer, the PCF surveyed more than 2000 adults in the United States. The report, titled PCF 3P Report 2018: Public Perception of Prostate Cancer, uncovered some misperceptions associated with preventing men who are at risk from accessing screening.

Among the adults surveyed, for example, 68% of the men agreed that they would be more likely to go for prostate cancer screening if they knew they could start with a blood test.

Nurses and other health care professionals are perfectly positioned to correct misperceptions and share important facts about prostate cancer screening. In honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness month, consider sharing some surprising facts with patients and friends, and encouraging them to learn more about prostate cancer, risk factors, and screening.

  • Early-stage prostate cancer doesn’t present symptoms. According to the survey, nearly 3 out of 4 American adults don’t know this. Prostate cancer does not initially have noticeable symptoms, so by the time it is discovered, it is often in a later, more serious stage. Earlier conversations with doctors could help men establish their risk profiles and understand when screening might be appropriate for them.
  • Not enough men are discussing prostate cancer with their doctors. Only 42 percent of adult males who were surveyed had ever spoken with their doctors about prostate cancer screening. However, those over age 54 were more likely to have done so (67%).
  • Racial minorities have higher risk than white men but are screened less frequently. Of the male survey respondents, only 35% of black, 30% of Hispanic, and 16% of Asian men say they have discussed screening with their doctor.
  • Fear of embarrassment stops many from pursuing screening. Twenty-eight percent of men surveyed said that embarrassment is the reason they have not talked with their doctors about prostate cancer screening.
  • BRCA mutation is linked to prostate cancer. People with a family history of BRCA mutation should be aware that in addition to breast cancer, this mutation has also been associated with higher risk for prostate cancer. This knowledge may affect a doctor’s advice about when to screen.
  • Initial screening for prostate cancer begins with a blood test. Half of the men surveyed mistakenly believe that prostate cancer screening starts with a physical exam. Correcting this misperception could make more men at risk more likely to pursue screening in a timely manner.

The PCF’s eye-opening statistics reveal several emotional reasons for men’s reluctance to screen for prostate cancer. Raising awareness about the process and risk factors could alleviate some of those fears and encourage important conversations with providers.

Reference

The Prostate Cancer Foundation. PCF 3P Report 2018: Public Perception of Prostate Cancer. PCF Website. pcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PublicPerception_PCF.pdf. 2018. Accessed Sept. 28, 2018.