What Men Don't Know Does Kill Them

Cancer screening is important for both men and women

(RxWiki News) Men don't like to ask for directions. They also tend not to have cancer screenings on a regular basis. A new study confirms this unhealthy chink in the masculine armor.

While it's known that men are more likely to die of cancer than women, men don't receive cancer screenings as often or as regularly as women. The problem seems to be lack of awareness.

"Men, go get screened for cancer."

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida led the study with colleagues from Sanoa Consulting LLC, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the New York University College of Dentistry.

Corresponding author, Jenna L. Davis, M.P.H., of Moffitt's Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, says the aim of the study was to examine beliefs and attitudes about cancer screenings and gain understanding to improve cancer health promotion practices.

Using a random-dial telephone survey, 1,148 adult African Americans, whites, and Puerto Rican Hispanics, most of whom were between the ages of 30-59, answered questions from the Cancer Screening Questionnaire. Men accounted for 35 percent of those surveyed.

Researchers suggested the gap between men and women may relate to several factors, including:

  • Media cancer awareness campaigns, fundraisers and commercials are primarily aimed at women's cancers.
  • Government sponsored cancer awareness programs for men are lacking.
  • The National Institutes of Health has an Office of Research on Women's Health, but nothing for men.
  • Studies have shown that women visit their primary care doctors more often than men.

Co-author B. Lee Green, Ph.D., Moffitt senior member and the vice president of Moffitt Diversity, points out there is considerably less media attention on men's cancers. For example, a previous study showed that mammography is mentioned more often in newspaper articles than prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer.

Because women visit doctors more regularly, they often receive cancer screenings during these visits, says Davis.

The study did find that when men understand exactly what happens during the screening procedures, including who conducts them and what the man has to do, men are slightly more willing to participate than women.

Davis concludes, "This means that health educators, physicians and community-based organizations should make a concerted effort to educate men on exact screening procedures, explain how cancer is detected, and communicate what to expect during screening."

The study is to be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Men's Health.

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Review Date: 
November 30, 2011