As a physician, I have seen far too many cases of patients who have convinced themselves that there was no need to go to the doctor to have their symptoms evaluated. Whether due to the threat of a bad diagnosis, fear of needles and tests, bad experiences with doctors in the past, perceived lack of time to make an appointment, lack of health insurance, or any number of other possibilities, I have heard the reasons why people have chosen to wait so long to come in.
In particular, I have found that men are far more likely than women to put off their checkups, ignore symptoms, or simply just avoid the situation when it comes to their health.
In the case of prostate cancer, symptoms that may signify cancer or BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy) are usually very obvious. Urinating is something everyone does many times daily. When urinary symptoms like difficulty starting the urine stream or having to get up more than once in the middle of the night to urinate begin, men need to realize that something is amiss and then see their doctor.
Prostate cancer, if caught early, is usually very curable. Unfortunately, one of the most common reasons why prostate cancer is only diagnosed after it has become advanced or even spread to other areas of the body is that men ignore their symptoms for years before going to their physician.
Luckily, more and more men are realizing the benefits of having regular check-ups, of undergoing the PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer, and of having irregularities (like urinary problems) checked out.
Hopefully, with more doctors, patients, and families realizing the importance of early prostate cancer detection and diagnosis, more men paying attention to their symptoms, and treatment options improving constantly, we will see higher cure rates in the future.