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Colorectal cancer screening for men – addressing barriers to uptake

Participation in faecal occult blood test screening in Australia, used to screen for colorectal cancer, is markedly lower amongst men compared to women. This finding is particularly problematic as men are at a significantly increased risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, colorectal cancer.

Differences between men and women in attitudes and perceived barriers to screen suggest that a customised gender specific approach to offering screening may improve male participation in screening over and above traditional methods.

Professor Deborah Turnbull and Dr Amy Duncan from Psychology and researchers with the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, University of Adelaide, undertook a randomised clinical trial to determine whether tailoring the wording of the Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program advanced notification letter and invitation letter for males improved participation.

Their results, presented at the International Psycho-Oncology Symposium/Clinical Oncology Society of Australia combined meeting showed no effect of male-tailored recruitment letters. (Control – 35%, modified invite – 37%;  modified advanced notification letter invite – 34%).   Research continues to address barriers to screening uptake in men.

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