Does the word “doctor” send the men in your life running to the nearest exit? If so, you’re not alone.
Surveys show that men are much less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year.
“Many men don’t get check-ups or look into cancer symptoms because their health isn’t something they talk about,” says Elise Cook, M.D., associate professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention.
The price men pay can be high, though. When men don’t get routine exams, they miss out on potentially lifesaving screening tests. And these exams are an important part of cancer prevention.
“It’s often up to women to make sure the men in their lives get the preventive care and cancer screening tests they need to stay healthy,” Cook says.
Does a man you care about avoid the doctor? Here’s how you can help him get the care he needs.
Family support is key. So, give him a gentle nudge.
Use creative ways to stress his importance to the family. For example, make a postcard and ask family members to write brief notes about why they care about his health. Include a reminder if he has an upcoming appointment.
Be a role model
Show him that going to the doctor isn’t a big deal by scheduling routine exams for yourself. You could even invite him to go with you to make him more familiar with the health care setting.
“Seeing you meet with a doctor may make him more comfortable with doing the same,” Cook says.
Find a doctor
Find a doctor he’ll be comfortable with and schedule an appointment. Tap into your network of family and friends. They are often good sources of referrals. Or contact a trusted local hospital.
If he hasn’t seen a doctor in years, he can even start by visiting a family doctor. He or she will help identify appropriate tests based on his age, family history, lifestyle habits and other factors. These tests may include screening exams for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, as well as colorectal, prostate, lung and skin cancers.
Many men fear screening exams because they don’t know what to expect. So, make his health a team effort.
Before his first doctor’s appointment, read about different cancer screening exams the doctor is likely to recommend and share with him what you learn.
Go with him to his first visit. Use this meeting to ask questions and discuss concerns.
After his appointment, celebrate. Then add one last thing to his to-do list: Urge him to get the men he knows to see their doctor regularly and get the screening exams they need too.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 888-774-3020.