My View, Dr Nick Tupper - Don’t be a cancer chancer

A man having his blood pressure taken.
A man having his blood pressure taken.
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Today is the start of Men’s Health Week and a good opportunity to remind Doncaster blokes of the need to look after your health.

I was interested to read some research by the Men’s Health Forum which has found that men see their GP on average only three times a year compared to five times for women. Interestingly, men are also less likely to have regular dental checks – just over half of men compared with two-thirds of women. Men develop many serious illnesses earlier than women – 10-15 years earlier in the case of heart disease and they are less likely to seek health advice at a pharmacy.

This backs up what I find in my GP practice; many men are reluctant to see a doctor when they have a genuine health problem. The challenge we have is to make GP and other health services more male focussed. But how do we achieve that, what do we need to start doing differently? I would be interested in having your thoughts and ideas.

More Doncaster men die from bowel, prostate and lung cancer than is the average for the rest of the country. One of the main problems is that men often leave it too long after spotting the symptoms before they contact their GP. At Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group we are determined to improve that situation and we’re trying out different ways of getting health messages though to local men.

Sport is one mechanism we think may help us and the success of the national website menunited is a good example.

This year we’re building on the partnership we have formed with Doncaster Rovers to target their fan base with key messages around those three cancers in particular. We will be running campaigns with the clubs to alert male fans – and their loved ones – to the symptoms to look out for, which include:

Lung cancer – a cough that lasts more than three weeks

Bowel - blood in your poo

Prostate - difficulty having a wee, or passing more urine than usual, especially at night.

We have placed awareness raising adverts on the Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster Knights websites as a starter and last season we worked closely with Rovers on a prostate cancer campaign called ‘Finding your tackle not up to speed at the moment?’. Figures show that in the six months following the campaign 100 more Doncaster men had their first treatment for some form of urological cancer – including prostate, compared to the same period the previous year. We hope to build on that success next season.

A key element of our communication will be to work with the players to tap into the fans’ own links with the club through fanzine and social media sites. In the meantime, look after yourself and if you have any worries see your GP. Don’t be a cancer chancer.

Contact Dr Nick on twitter @drnicktupper

* Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster clinical commissioning group