Men aged over 50 are less likely to know the symptoms of serious diseases than women, suggests a survey by Saga, a company focused on that age group.
Fifty-five per cent of men said they were aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer, compared with 72% of women.
More than 11,000 UK men and women were asked about their knowledge of diseases and what makes them go to their GP.
Men whose partners or children put pressure on them to get a check-up were more likely to see a doctor.
From a survey of 11,729 men and women aged 50 and over, 41% of men surveyed said they were unaware of the symptoms of prostate cancer.
Men were also less likely than women to know the symptoms of lung cancer, skin cancer, arthritis and dementia while 82% of women surveyed said they knew the symptoms of breast cancer.
When asked how they knew about the signs of different diseases, government health campaigns were cited as the main way of learning about symptoms, particularly those of cancers.
People who were aware of the symptoms of dementia and arthritis, however, were more likely to have learned about the condition through family members who had been affected.
The survey found that men were most likely to go and see their GP when they found blood in their urine (82%) or in their stool (78%) and when they felt severe pain (74%). These were all important triggers for women to see their doctor too.
But men (59%) were much less likely than women (80%) to go to the GP when they found a new lump in their body.
If men over 50 needed encouragement to see a medical professional, they were more likely than women to go for a check-up when faced with
pressure from their partner or children.
A recent study by Cancer Research UK found that bowel cancer rates among men have increased by more than a quarter in the last 35 years.
This contrasts with a rise of just 6% in the rate for women over the same time.
At the same time, bowel cancer survival rates are improving with half of all patients living for at least 10 years after being diagnosed.
Deborah Alsina, chief executive of charity Bowel Cancer UK said: “It is deeply worrying that men remain less aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer and are less likely to take part in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme than women.
“Bowel cancer is preventable, treatable and curable and should not be the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, yet currently only around 50% of people are living longer than five years.”
She added that targeted campaigns were the key to raising awareness among men.