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The heavy burden of cancer on men

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Men are heavily affected by cancer Men are heavily affected by cancer

Making a prompt diagnosis in patients who present with symptoms caused by cancer is a key priority. It is usual for most people with cancer to present to a healthcare professional in general practice, who will have to consider a diagnosis of cancer and make appropriate onward referral.1 It is inevitable that there will be some diagnostic delays where the signs and symptoms are initially attributed to a benign cause.2 Delays in diagnosis after presentation, coupled with any initial delay in seeking healthcare advice, can have a detrimental effect on the patient experience.

Men differ from women in the ways in which they manage their health and access healthcare services. Nurses need to be aware of this and work with men in a more patient-centred manner.

It is easy to assume that comparisons of the numbers of men and women using services are the main issues in men's health. However, when considering access to the most effective treatment, recognising symptoms and obtaining help at the right time are key.3

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Good to see some analysis on cancer and gender but felt missed one key area, screening services differ for men and women. My partner, over the past 30 yrs, has received invitations (NHS Appointment Letters) for Breast and Cervical Screening, which is good of course. However, I have yet to have any similar appointment for any type of cancer. My local clinic also has little to no information on cancers affecting men. From my direct experience, seems more effort, resources and priority are placed on women as compared to that for men. Is this true beyond my limited personal experience, I would hope not. The issue of attention, effort and targeting is a factor and not simply men not availing of a service not offered or followed up on directly by the NHS. My Partner asked at our clinic about equivalent care for me and was told, "..he can always make an appointment", which is hardly the point and indicates lack of process and system to ensure men are aware they have screening services available and also act proactively on such, for the NHS that is. I think there may be something more systemic in the way the NHS approach healthcare, relating to cancer, between women and men. Blaming men for poor uptake is no solution, the cause of this has several factors, one I believe is lower priority for males and resource allocation as a direct result (of course, hypothesis only but something based on my own experiences that would not be too outlandish to postulate).
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