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Men less willing to be screened for cancer than women

But they do participate if given more information

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Although men have higher cancer mortality rates than women, they are less willing to be screened for cancer, a study has found.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/National Institutes of Health, was conducted in New York City, Baltimore, Maryland and San Juan, Puerto Rico, through a random-dial telephone survey of 1,148 adult African Americans, whites, and Puerto Rican Hispanics who answered questions from the Cancer Screening Questionnaire. The majority of those surveyed were 30 to 59 years of age. The study has been released online and will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Men's Health.

"This study examined beliefs and attitudes held by men and women about cancer screening," said author Jenna L. Davis, of Moffitt's Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior.

"Our aim was to gain insight for improving existing cancer health promotion practices. Our findings indicate that there is a need for better health and cancer screening promotion among men."

The researchers suggested that the screening participation gap between the genders may be related to several factors. For example, more cancer awareness promotions in the media are aimed at women's breast cancer; there is a lack of government sponsored men's cancer awareness campaigns; and studies indicate that women visit their primary care doctors more often than men do.

The authors cite a previous study showing that mammography is more often mentioned in newspaper articles than the prostate specific antigen (PSA), the screening tool for prostate cancer.

Another variable may be that women are more frequent consumers of health care.

"Women generally have more ongoing and routine visits to their primary care doctors than men," said Davis. "They are more likely to be screened during these visits."

The study concluded that when men are provided with the details of screening procedures – who conducts the screening, what men have to do – men were slightly more likely to participate in cancer screening than women.

"This strongly suggests that men will participate in screening when given more information about screening procedures," concluded Davis. "This means that health educators, physicians and community-based organisations should make a concerted effort to educate men on exact screening procedures, explain how cancer is detected, and communicate what to expect during screening."

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