Men fail to discuss cancer

Men are backward at coming forward when it comes to discussing cancer, statistics show.

The charity Cancer Research UK has found that women are more than twice as likely as men to call its information nurses for advice on the disease.

Women are also responsible for 45% of calls about prostate cancer and 40% of calls about testicular cancer.

Cancer Research UK’s Psychosocial Oncology Group at Brighton’s University of Sussex says that these figures highlight a communication difference between the sexes.

Professor Lesley Fallowfield, director of the group, said: “Feelings can be quite hard for men to discuss, particularly if it’s about things like male cancers which are threatening to their notions of masculinity and manhood.

“There’s also a cultural expectation that ‘big boys don’t cry’ and many men do not actually ask about things that trouble them - even if it’s anonymously and over a phone line.

“So we have to find new ways of reaching them because sharing concerns can be a real help.”

Russell Fuller’s message
‘The worst part of it all for me was the long days leading up to being diagnosed with cancer.
The uncertainty of knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what it was, was very worrying. Once I knew that the odds were overwhelmingly in my favour it was much easier to deal with and rationalise. Men generally don’t like talking about their feelings as much and losing a testicle, like I did, can be embarrassing and almost like a loss of face.
But I’m a very open person and talking about it was an invaluable help.’

Web solution
One route may be through the internet. According to a National Statistics Omnibus Survey, men are 13% more likely to use the internet than women.

Cancer Research UK is launching a message board on its website during June in a bid to encourage men to discuss their experiences of male cancers.

One of the first contributions will be from BBC Radio 5 Live sports presenter Russell Fuller, 29, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1999.

A breakdown of calls made to information nurses at Cancer Research UK shows that between 1999 and 2001 an average of 2,531 men called the charity each year compared to 5,617 women.

Cancer Research UK has a dedicated patient information website which includes facts and figures about both prostate and testicular cancer.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD