My role


Can men be interested in bowel cancer screening?

Can men be effectively screened? That was the question at the MHF's mini-conference held at the Kings Fund in London last month as part of the Forum's Bowel Cancer Project. 

Following on from a series of focus groups with men in the target age range (60–69) for bowel cancer screening and a randomised postal survey of 2,000 people of both sexes, this event was the chance for 50 or so screening programme professionals and academics with an interest in the field to come together. Attendees came from all parts of the England as well as from the bowel cancer screening programme in Wales, which is administered separately.

MHF policy officer David Wilkins said: 'Men are 50% more likely than women to develop bowel cancer so it is particularly important that we make sure men give proper consideration to screening when the opportunity is offered.

'The debate centred around the principle of engaging men in screening more generally. We heard from speakers involved with PSA testing for prostate cancer, and the Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, as well as those who had undertaken research in relation to bowel cancer. The event also heard a report on the MHF’s Health Information for Men research project, which is developing a more sophisticated approach to “male friendly” communication.'

Final report due in Spring

The Forum’s Bowel Cancer Project, which began in 2007, is nearing completion. Funded by the Department of Health, the project's primary objective is to develop a better understanding of why uptake within the NHS National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is lower among men.

David outlined the purpose of the project: 'The objective is to help men engage with the national programme. We aren't directly trying to encourage men to screen. That would be counter to the NHS's rigorous objective which is to encourage all people to make an informed choice about whether to screen or not. The issue that many people - especially, men - probably decide not to screen without considering all the pros and cons.'

The final report of the project, due for publication this spring, will recommend approaches that should help engage men in the programme more effectively.

As promised, the presentations are available for download:

Page created on February 1st, 2011

Page updated on February 3rd, 2011