My role


Expert advisory group to close bowel cancer screening gender gap

An expert advisory group is now in place for the MHF's Bowel Cancer Project which is to begin its planning phase this summer.

CartoonThe project, which will be funded over three years by the Department of Health, is a response to the lower take-up by men in the recent pilot National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme.

MHF Policy and Projects Officer David Wilkins who is coordinating the work for the Forum says: 'although men and women received exactly the same screening kit and background information materials in the post during the pilot, take-up was 9% lower among men.

'This may not sound a lot but 35,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK and the disease kills 50 people every day. Given this volume of cases and the fact that men are very much more likely than women to develop the disease, this difference could have serious implications for men if it stays the same now that the programme is being rolled out nationwide.'

The expert advisory group brings together senior Department of Health officials, leading academics and researcher and those with experience of delivering bowel cancer screening.

Under their auspices, the project will both look at existing research and conduct new research men's knowledge and attitudes in relation to bowel cancer. It will then develop targeted marketing materials aimed at encouraging men to take up the chance to be screened when they are offered it. David says: 'These materials will be used in addition to the official information in one or more areas of the country. Take-up in these areas will then be compared with demographically similar areas where only the standard information has been used. That way we can see how effective the materials are.'

David stresses however the importance of raising bowel cancer screening awareness among both sexes. 'We need to aim for better take up by both sexes in the long run. Take up was 61% for women and 52% men in the pilot.'

Page created on June 4th, 2007

Page updated on December 1st, 2009