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Centre For Men's Health Leeds: A Review Of Barriers In Male Lung Cancer Screening

Published in the Journal Of Men's Health in May 2011, this reviewed strategies to engage men in lung cancer screening.

Leeds Metropolitan University


Focus on strategies that work rather than strategies that put men off seeking help...

This research analysed published studies from online journals to examine the barriers and obstacles facing men that prevents them from seeking screening for lung cancer.

What Puts Men Off Screening Or Seeking Help?

A variety of factors were reported to be at play that stop some men seeking help when they have unexplained symptoms:

  •  Lack of awareness of lung cancer warning signs: early, vague symptoms like weight loss, difficulty swallowing or fatigue are often not associated with possible cancer.
  • Connected with this is the idea that health changes may be normal (eg through ageing) or may be connected to outside environments incorrectly (eg coughing from new air conditioning at work).
  • Separate symptoms are seen as unrelated, so there is no connection made between a cough, weight loss or fatigue until symptoms are much worse.
  • Reluctance to 'waste a GP's time' was sometimes reported. Some men felt that going through the process of booking an appointment would only lead to a 'token' diagnosis and time wasted for themselves and the GP.
  • A fear of being stigmatised put some men off - for example, some men felt that they would be blamed for the presence of lung cancer even if they had never smoked.

Strategies That Can Encourage Men To Take Action

  • Finding ways that involve family members can pay off in getting men to seek help - either through partners' encouragement or through having family members affected that encourages men to start a discussion on their own health.
  • Promotion of screening at transition points in a man's life: for example, when he is getting married, becoming a father or moving in with a aprtner. These points can provide a good time to start engagement about screening especially if there are early symptoms.

Strategies That Tend To Deter Men From Seeking Help

  • Scare campaigns or promotions that convey the idea that men who develop illness are entirely to blame tend not to result in positive action.
  •  Defeatest campaigns that focus on a high likelihood of death are also off-putting, so campaigns now are focusing on the opportunities for life even with illness, with better results.

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