Why men avoid bowel cancer screening

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Why men avoid bowel cancer screening

On average, 1 in 3 men does not participate in the bowel cancer screening program. The Stomach Liver Intestine Foundation asked 1,000 men why. Dreading a follow-up examination, the hassle, fear of a bad result or the lack of complaints appear to be reasons for not participating.


For 34 percent of non-participants, it is not known that the population screening not only detects colon cancer, but also polyps that can develop into colon cancer over the course of 10 to 15 years. Of the men who never participate, 44 percent do not speak to anyone about the purple envelope containing the stool test they received in the mail. The reason is that they hate talking about it or are ashamed.

Participation rate is decreasing

The participation rate of men in the bowel cancer screening program has been declining for years, according to other research. Although men have a higher risk (1 in 12) of colon cancer than women (1 in 15), nowadays only 65 percent of men participate in the population screening for colon cancer, compared to 71 percent of women. After lung cancer, colon cancer is the type of cancer that kills the most people (4,500 people per year). It affects around 12,000 Dutch people every year.

10 years of population research

The Bowel Cancer Population Survey has been around for 10 years. Everyone between the ages of 55 and 75 receives an invitation for the bowel cancer screening program every 2 years. Since its introduction in 2014, 192,000 people have been detected with a pre-stage of colon cancer (polyp, also known as advanced adenoma) or with colon cancer. A total of 16 million invitations were sent during this period and more than 11.5 million people participated in the population survey. Additional examination was required in 565,000 people: a colonoscopy. It is not yet known to what extent the population screening has reduced mortality from colon cancer. These figures will be announced later this year.

Source: Gastrointestinal Liver Foundation

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