Despite years of repeated public health campaigns stressing the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment, 48 per cent of men would go to their GP only if their condition became 'critical', a survey for BUPA has found.
Suffering in silence
In fact, 83 per cent of men would rather suffer from an illness for up to six months or more than get medical treatment.
And only 69 per cent of those with signs of cancer would be "very willing" to see their doctor, according to the poll of 2,000 male adults in the UK, conducted by OnePoll for Bupa Health Clinics earlier this month.
Leaving it too late
The findings, released this week, reveal that four out of 10 men admit that they have put up with ailments until the pain has become unbearable and forced them to see their doctor.
The stakes could not be higher in terms of health campaigns, for "when it comes to healthcare, early intervention can quite literally be a matter of life or death", according to Laura Tompkins, press officer, Bupa Global and UK.
It is "vital" that men take their health seriously, she added.
However, the research reveals how this will be easier said than done.
Four out of 10 men said they have never had a general check-up, and many are uncomfortable talking about their health.
Nearly half have kept medical conditions a secret, with many having done so hoping the problem would do away, or because they did not want to worry anyone. In one in five cases, men did not tell anyone because they feared they had a fatal condition.
More than one in seven men would be unwilling to have their prostate, bowel, or testicles examined.
And fewer than one in three have any confidence that they would know the symptons of prostate cancer – despite it being the most common cancer in men in the UK.
Just one in four would be willing to see their GP to discuss their weight, diet, or exercise regime.
Men are more willing to see their doctor to get their blood pressure or cholesterol checked, or to discuss heart problems or breathing difficulties, according to the research.
Significant challenges remain in terms of how men feel about doctors, with almost four in 10 anxious at the thought of seeing their GP, while one in seven is embarrassed or frightened by the prospect.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Naveen Puri, a lead physician at Bupa Health Clinics, said: "It is clear from our research that men are still struggling to open up about their health."
He added: "For many men, visiting the doctor about a health issue is still intimidating and they often put it off until their condition becomes worse. It is clear there is still work needed to be done to encourage men to feel comfortable speaking up about their health."
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