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Men miss signs of serious illness

09 November 2016

Men are less likely to know the symptoms of serious illnesses than women, according to a Saga survey of 8,000 UK over-50s.

Man worried about health issues
Four out of ten men don’t know the symptoms of prostate cancer. Photo posed by model.

Worryingly, four out of ten men don’t know what to look out for when it comes to prostate cancer, despite public health campaigns and well-known celebrities talking about their own personal experiences of this disease.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

When it comes to bowel cancer, 71% women say they know the main signs, compared to 54% of men. The pattern is repeated with lung cancer (45% women v 33% men) and skin cancer (73% women v 56% men), as well as dementia (women 66% v men 51%) and osteoporosis (women 45% v 23% men).   

The study, which was conducted for Saga Health Insurance, also asked over-50s what symptoms would prompt them to go to the doctors.

While 90% of people say they would go to their GP if they had blood in the urine or stool, just 63% of men would go to their doctor if they discover a new lump, compared to 83% of women.

Bowel cancer - know what to look for

In fact, whether they have severe pain, persistent headaches or are feeling unwell for more than five days, women are more likely than men to be prompted to take action. 

However, men are more likely than women to seek help if they experience dizziness or nausea or sickness and diarrhoea. 

Busy lives and feeling embarrassed could be just some of the reasons people are reluctant to go to their doctor. 

What's keeping your from your GP? We take a look at the common reasons

To encourage over-50s to act quickly and seek advice, Saga Health Insurance customers can call a 24/7 GP helpline for free. People can call for advice and often get a diagnosis from the comfort of their own home without having to wait for a slot with their local GP.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.