Men are often reluctant to talk about health matters, and that’s certainly true according to new research by GenesisCare, which reveals that nearly half (49%) of fathers admit they steer clear of talking about men’s health issues with their sons - because they don’t want to scare them (19%).
Yet, it’s estimated that between 3 and 10 in every 100 cancers in the UK are associated with an inherited gene. Men have a one in two chance of being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, with prostate cancer being the most common cancer for men. In fact, if a father - or brother - has it, then their son(s) are two and a half times more likely to receive a diagnosis.
Almost two-thirds (65%) of fathers want their sons to be more confident speaking about health than they are - with 70% wishing health chats could be as commonplace as talking about sports, as one in three dads say they wouldn’t know how to start a sensitive health conversation.
Not having enough knowledge (20%), being unable to find the right time and place (17%) and not wanting to cause distress (16%) are the main reasons British fathers don’t talk to their sons specifically about men’s cancer. Surprisingly, 5% even believe it’s unlucky to bring up the subject of cancer.
So, GenesisCare, the UK’s leading independent cancer care provider, is appealing to all fathers to ‘Break the Silence’ around men’s health and cancer this Father’s Day (18 June) - particularly if they know there is enhanced genetic risk in their family. This is because early diagnosis and the latest advances in cancer treatments can help minimise side effects and improve outcomes and quality of life.
While more than one in six (18%) British fathers find it uncomfortable to discuss checking for men’s cancer with their sons regularly, the majority (87%) believe it's important for their sons to know they can talk to them about it.
Health issues can be taboo, especially with men, as our ‘Break the Silence’ research shows. Cancer can be difficult to discuss, and many men fear the impact a cancer diagnosis may have on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. This Father’s Day, we want dads to take the time to have a conversation with their sons about any risks – particularly those that may be hereditary. By fostering open dialogue, encouraging early detection, and highlighting the available innovative treatment options, we hope to improve outcomes and help more men live healthy, fulfilling lives.
Geoff Seymour, a 65-year-old man, was successfully treated for prostate cancer with radiotherapy on our innovative MRIdian in just five days. In less than a week, he returned to his normal life; showing the phenomenal value of early diagnosis and treatment. Since Geoff’s father died as a result of prostate cancer, Geoff had been getting his GP to monitor his PSA levels (Prostate Specific Antigen) regularly. The minute a change was detected, they booked him in for treatment. This awareness and quick response were key in his recovery.”
Dr Prantik Das, Clinical Oncologist, GenesisCare.
It shouldn’t take a life-changing disease to encourage men to have a life-saving conversation. Having witnessed my father’s radiotherapy experience, I wasn’t keen on the route. Given these fears, my consultant oncologist, Dr Prantik Das, told me about a ground-breaking radiotherapy treatment available through GenesisCare using MRIdian technology. Over just 5 consecutive days, I was fully treated with only 40 minutes of radiotherapy each day.
The death of my father encouraged me to consider my own genetic health risks and, in turn, that of my sons, who are 36 and 40 now. It wasn’t something I had ever discussed with them – but knowing that it could save their lives, you bet I found a way to bring it up. It was awkward at first, but now we check in every now and then pretty easily. I would encourage all men to get over their fears, take the time out and just ask the question.”
Most respondents (86%) agree that it's important for their sons to know if they have an increased risk of hereditary cancer, to ensure they’re aware of the development of any signs and symptoms. Of those surveyed, 69% would consider genetic testing if a family member was diagnosed with cancer.
More than three in four (79%) British fathers would like to learn more about the signs and symptoms of men’s cancers to provide more guidance to their sons during conversations, while 69% want to better understand the latest cancer treatment options available. Four in five (82%) agree that the knowledge would make them feel more equipped with a self-diagnosis or a family diagnosis.
Starting the conversation:
Recognising that not everyone finds it easy to initiate conversations around men’s health, GenesisCare offers these conversation starting points:
- Start with empathy: Approach the conversation with genuine care and understanding, emphasising that you want to support your son's overall well-being.
- Choose the right moment: Find a comfortable and relaxed setting where both you and your son can talk openly without distractions.
- Encourage questions: Create a safe space for your son to ask any questions he may have. Assure him that no question is off-limits or embarrassing.
- Connect the family dots: Foster open dialogue about family cancers, especially as prostate cancer affects more than 52,000 men each year, and around 5-9% are related to inherited factors. Don’t put off exploring your hereditary medical history and acknowledging any potential risks, as this will help determine the most effective approach.
- Use relatable examples: Share stories or examples from individuals who have overcome health challenges to talking about how you conduct your own well-man check-ups and where to start, to emphasise the importance of early detection and prevention.
- Provide reliable resources: Equip your son with trusted sources of information, such as educational websites or reputable organisations, to encourage further exploration and understanding.
GenesisCare offers a range of innovative cancer treatments for prostate cancer, including precision MRI-guided radiotherapy and Theranostics. These treatments target cancer cells while minimising damage to healthy tissues, reducing side effects and improving patient outcomes.
For more information on the innovative cancer treatments available at GenesisCare, please visit https://www.genesiscare.com/5dayprostat