Low awareness of urological conditions

Many do not know what a urologist does
  • Deborah Condon

Awareness of urological conditions is alarmingly low throughout Europe, particularly among men, a new survey has found.

According to the findings, men have a poor knowledge of key urological symptoms and in fact, women tend to know more about men's urology health issues than men do.

Urological conditions include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, kidney stones, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, erectile dysfunction and interstitial cystitis.

The survey of 2,500 people in five European countries, including the UK, Germany and Spain, was commissioned by the European Association of Urology (EAU), in order to mark its annual awareness event, Urology Week (September 24-28).

It found that women know more about men's urological issues than men do, men have a poor knowledge of urology symptoms overall, and they tend not to take the early signs of potentially life-threatening conditions seriously.

The EAU said it was concerned by the findings because urological conditions are on the increase due to an ageing European population. As a result, prevention and early diagnosis are essential to save lives and cut down on health-related costs.

The survey revealed a low awareness of urology as a medical specialty, with 40% of people unable to identify what a urologist does. Almost 15% thought that urologists treat disorders of the skeletal, nervous or circulatory systems, while 10% admitted they had never even heard of this type of doctor.

When it came to prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer found in males throughout Europe, three quarters of men admitted they have limited knowledge of the disease.

Almost 450,000 men are newly diagnosed with this type of cancer throughout Europe every year, and 92,000 men die annually as a result. However, just 27% of men were confident about recognising the symptoms of the disease. In fact, more men (31%) were able to confidently recognise the symptoms of breast cancer.

Meanwhile, more women than men were able to correctly identify the location of the prostate (28% versus 22%), while 54% of men thought that women also had prostates.

The EAU highlighted the importance of symptom awareness and early diagnosis. It pointed out that the majority of deaths in male cancers occur because men do not seek help in time, with many ignoring symptoms and delaying doctor visits.

The survey revealed that 43% of people would not go to their doctor immediately if they found blood in their urine, 28% would wait for more than one week if they suffered burning or pain during urination, and 23% would wait longer than a month if they experienced a frequent urge to urinate.

"The results of our latest survey clearly demonstrate that people are ill-informed when it comes to urological conditions. Men in particular have less knowledge than women and turn a blind eye to symptoms and early diagnosis.

"Persuading men to take their health seriously presents a serious challenge. They need to have a better understanding of the risk and symptoms of their conditions. They should be encouraged to seek support from a medical
professional if they suspect anything unusual," commented Prof Hein Van Poppel, a urologist and adjunct secretary general of the EAU.

For more information on Urology Week, click here


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