Best practice: Slow on the uptake? Improving bowel cancer screening

The report from the Men's Health Forum, Slow On The Uptake?, highlights the paradox of bowel cancer. Although men are more likely than women to die from bowel cancer, they less likely to be screened. The report looks at how screening practice can be improved.

Men are 54% more likely than women to develop bowel cancer but only 52% of men have taken up the offer of screening compared to 58% of women. GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists, and sex specific information, are key to tackling the issue, say the Forum.

Slow on the uptake? Bowel Ca screening

The research was funded mainly by the Department of Health.

In our research, both men and women told us they were would prefer information about screening that was written specifically for their own sex. Time and again, the importance of GPs, other primary care professionals and spouses or partners in men’s decision-making process was also mentioned.

Ideas in the MHF's report:

  •     Men are less likely to take part in bowel cancer screening in most countries that have such programmes suggesting there is something ‘male’ about not taking part.
  •     When it was explained to them, men were more likely to see the test used (the faecal occult blood test – FOBt) as simple to do. The message about how simple and practical it is could be highlighted.
  •     For some men who feel fit and well, it may seem that the FOBt is either not relevant or that somehow there is 'more to lose' by taking it (because it might find something wrong).
  •     The inclination in men simply to 'deny' health concerns, either through inertia or unacknowledged fear, is not perhaps as commonplace as some people believe. Nevertheless, it is an important factor in some cases.

Slow on the uptake? Bowel cancer, men and improving screening (PDF, 1.1mb)