Men and women: beliefs about cancer and about screening

Sach, Tracey H.; Whynes, David K.
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p431
Academic Journal
Background: Cancer screening programmes in England are publicly-funded. Professionals' beliefs in the public health benefits of screening can conflict with individuals' entitlements to exercise informed judgement over whether or not to participate. The recognition of the importance of individual autonomy in decision making requires greater understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs upon which people's screening choices are founded. Until recently, the technology available required that cancer screening be confined to women. This study aimed to discover whether male and female perceptions of cancer and of screening differed. Methods: Data on the public's cancer beliefs were collected by means of a postal survey (anonymous questionnaire). Two general practices based in Nottingham and in Mansfield, in eastcentral England, sent questionnaires to registered patients aged 30 to 70 years. 1,808 completed questionnaires were returned for analysis, 56.5 per cent from women. Results: Women were less likely to underestimate overall cancer incidence, although each sex was more likely to cite a sex-specific cancer as being amongst the most common cancer site. In terms of risk factors, men were most uncertain about the role of stress and sexually-transmitted diseases, whereas women were more likely to rate excessive alcohol and family history as major risk factors. The majority of respondents believed the public health care system should provide cancer screening, but significantly more women than men reported having benefiting from the nationally-provided screening services. Those who were older, in better health or had longer periods of formal education were less worried about cancer than those who had illness experiences, lower incomes, or who were smokers. Actual or potential participation in bowel screening was higher amongst those who believed bowel cancer to be common and amongst men, despite women having more substantial worries about cancer than men. Conclusion: Our results suggest that men's and women's differential knowledge of cancer correlates with women's closer involvement with screening. Even so, men were neither less positive about screening nor less likely to express a willingness to participate in relevant screening in the future. It is important to understand gender-related differences in knowledge and perceptions of cancer, if health promotion resources are to be allocated efficiently.


Related Articles

  • Understanding cervical cancer screening among lesbians: a national survey. Kathleen Tracy, J.; Schluterman, Nicholas H.; Greenberg, Deborah R. // BMC Public Health;2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1 

    Background: Lesbians have low rates of cervical cancer screening, even though they are at risk of developing the disease. The aim of this study was to examine cervical cancer screening behaviors in a national sample of lesbians. Methods: A standardized internet survey was sent to 3,000...

  • Screening for Colorectal Cancer: The Glass Is Half Full. Neugut, Alfred I.; Lebwohl, Benjamin // American Journal of Public Health;Apr2009, Vol. 99 Issue 4, p582 

    The authors express their opinion regarding reports indicating that almost half of adults over 50 years old in the U.S. have been screened for colorectal cancer. They note the public health benefits of the increase in screening, explaining that death rates due to colorectal cancer have declined....

  • Bowel screen test run in Waitemata. Cameron, Amanda // New Zealand Doctor;10/5/2011, p4 

    The article reports that starting in October 2011, all New Zealanders with a National Health Index (NHI) number between the ages of 50 to 74 will receive a letter inviting them to undergo a bowel cancer screening program as part of the country's four-year pilot program to stem the disease.

  • Factors associated with participation in colorectal cancer screening in Korea: the Fourth Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES IV). Myong, Jun-Pyo; Shin, Jin-yong; Kim, Su-jin // International Journal of Colorectal Disease;Aug2012, Vol. 27 Issue 8, p1061 

    Purpose: Despite the Government's National Cancer Screening Program for colorectal cancer (CRC), the number of individuals participating in screening in Korea is low. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify associations between relevant risk factors and the uptake of screening in Korea....

  • The effect of ‘Alma's’ death on women attending for a cervical smear: a questionnaire survey. Richardson, Judith; Owen-Smith, Vicci; Howe, Andy // Journal of Public Health Medicine;Dec2002, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p305 

    Following a story line in Coronation Street in which ‘Alma’ died of cervical cancer there was a large increase in the number of cervical smears taken in Manchester. To ascertain the extent to which women were influenced to attend for smears by this story line and why, we carried out...

  • Frequency of colorectal cancer screening and the impact of family physicians on screening behaviour. Zarychanski, Ryan; Chen, Yue; Bernstein, Charles N.; Hébert, Paul C. // CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;9/11/2007, Vol. 177 Issue 6, p593 

    Background: Mortality associated with colorectal cancer can be reduced by early detection. However, the participation of eligible people in colorectal cancer screening is thought to be inadequate. We examined the frequency of colorectal cancer screening in 4 Canadian provinces and the influence...

  • Diagnóstico y tamizaje. Suárez Quintero, Yanette; Varón Puerta, Adriana // Revista Colombiana de Gastroenterología;Suplemento 1, p12 

    The great efforts of recent years to establish monitoring and diagnostic criteria have become increasingly effective in defining hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as a clinical entity. These efforts are amply justified by the increased frequency of diagnosis. Establishment of early diagnosis...

  • Long-term results from a randomized controlled trial to increase cancer screening among attendees of community health centers. Roetzheim, Richard G.; Christman, Lisa K.; Jacobsen, Paul B.; Schroeder, Jennifer; Abdulla, Rania; Hunter, Seft // Annals of Family Medicine;Mar/Apr2005, Vol. 3 Issue 2, p109 

    Purpose: We assessed whether increased cancer screening rates that were observed with Cancer Screening Office Systems (Cancer SOS) could be maintained at 24 months' follow-up, a period in which clinics were expected to be largely self-sufficient in maintaining the...

  • Early detection: Screen test for the stars. Cunliffe, Lesley // Nature Reviews Cancer;Jun2005, Vol. 5 Issue 6, p418 

    The article presents information about a survey conducted in the U.S. which asked Americans of screening age about their exposure to, and the influence of, celebrity endorsements of cancer screening. When asked if they had seen or heard a celebrity talk about various screening programmes, most...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics