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07 November 2016, 00:00

Lack of awareness among men and cancer symptoms

  • Women most likely to know the symptoms of bowel, lung and skin cancer

  • Four out of ten men don’t know the symptoms of prostate cancer

  • Women are the most likely to take action if they discover new lumps

Men aged over 50 are less likely to know the symptoms of serious illnesses than their female counterparts, according to new research by Saga Health Insurance*.

The study asked 8,000 men and women aged over 50 whether they know the symptoms of some of the biggest killers. While women say they know the signs for more than half of the illnesses, on average men only know about a third of the illnesses.

For instance, women are more likely to say they know the signs of bowel cancer (71% women v 54% men), 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).

Worryingly, four out of ten men don’t know what to look out for when it comes to prostate cancer. In fact, despite public health campaigns and well-known celebrities talking about their own personal experiences of this disease, awareness has not increased as research shows the same number of men know the signs of prostate cancer as they did three years ago**.

The study 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. 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. 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. In addition, Saga offers a wealth of health advice and information.

Kevin McMullan, head of Saga Health Insurance commented: “Getting treatment quickly is really important and in some cases can be vital. It is really worrying that men don’t know the symptoms of some of some of the biggest killers and are willing to overlook certain symptoms. More often than not these symptoms won’t be as a result of anything serious but people should always go to their doctor to get things checked to be on the safe side.”


Notes to editors
*Populus interviewed 7,945 people aged 50 and over online between 20th and 27th June 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information visit

**Populus interviewed 11,729 people aged 50 and over online between 14th and 22nd August 2013.

About Saga Health Insurance

Saga specialises in understanding the needs of people over 50 and has been providing quality private health insurance for more than 25 years.

The health insurance offers:

  • Comprehensive range of plans at competitive prices
  • Prompt access to private medical treatment
  • Access to a wide choice of UK private hospitals
  • Cancer cover

Taking out a Saga HealthPlan is easy, whether you are new to health insurance or switching from your current insurer.

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Angela Clifton

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01303 776504