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Dr. Spratt discusses findings on men’s knowledge, perceptions of prostate cancer


“About 25% of men didn't even want to know that they had cancer,” says Daniel E. Spratt, MD.

In this video, Daniel E. Spratt, MD, discusses findings and implications from a survey on men’s knowledge and perceptions of cancer. The survey showed that about 1 in 4 men wouldn’t want to know that they had cancer, and nearly half weren’t knowledgeable about prostate cancer or factors that increase the risk of disease. Spratt is the chair of radiation oncology at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Video Transcript:

A very important study was recently reported, and it looked at factors, especially factors relating to fear, that impact patients and their perceptions of cancer. Some big takeaways about this is that almost half of men are not knowledgeable about prostate cancer. About half of men didn't know that a man's race could impact the risk of developing prostate cancer. The study went on to discuss other types of cancers and their knowledge, but generally, there was a lot of fear about being diagnosed with cancer. About 25% of men didn't even want to know that they had cancer.

I think this is very relevant when we talk about PSA screening rates, and some of the reasons that there is a lot of disparities in the United States and some other countries that we see substantially reduced screening rates in certain populations that may actually benefit most. So tying into this survey is that Black men in America have a greater than 2-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Why that is, there's a multitude of factors and we're constantly trying to understand them. But regardless, it is very clear that Black men have an increased probability of being diagnosed with prostate cancer and at a slightly younger age. But there's also sometimes, due to medical mistrust and historical aspects, this population of patients has been shown to undergo less PSA screening. And I think that by really understanding and getting education about prostate cancer, that the treatments have evolved greatly, that not all patients who undergo PSA testing will even have prostate cancer, and not all patients that have prostate cancer will even need to have treatment. I think it's destigmatizing something that is highly treatable if it needs treatment, but many men won't even need treatment.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

For a period of time, some people thought PSA screening or PSA testing was bad or the enemy because it led to overdiagnosis or overtreatment, but really, I view it as a very simple, inexpensive blood test that provides patients and their families and their physicians more information. And really, it's about what you do with that information that's the key factor here. I think the culture has changed dramatically in the United States to where we're really trying to not overtreat patients or even overdiagnose patients. So, I strongly encourage men to get that information and then have that conversation to decide what you want to do next with your urologist or your primary care doctor or your radiation oncologist.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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