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Men's Health - Changing male attitudes to health to improve prognosis and outcomes

Posted: 26th August 2015 08:33
Men's health refers to conditions that specifically affect males, or those that are not gender-specific but have different outcomes in men. Although still dominated by cardiovascular disease, men's health is increasingly focusing on other conditions and the wellness of the man overall.

There are many different factors that impact on men's health, making it a unique therapy area; these include biological, social, psychological and economic factors. In addition, men are exposed to a number of risk factors that make specific diseases and conditions more prevalent in the male population, such a behavioural risk and work-related risk factors. Lifestyle factors are also known to be at the root cause of many diseases and conditions that affect men, and while some changes can help reduce the overall risk, many men find it difficult to persist with these changes. Male behavior has historically been recognized as a major contributor to health issues, with men more likely to participate in risky activities, suffer from work-related health issues and have unhealthy lifestyles, particularly in relation to alcohol, smoking and diet. Men are also more reluctant to actively seek health advice and undertake treatment, due to a number of factors including social taboos, a perception that it is not manly to see the doctor, and a feeling that HCPs tend to be focused on women rather than men.

The sensitive nature of male-specific cancers mean many men tend to ignore symptoms, failing to self-examine and only presenting to physicians at a late stage. Prostate cancer is the most common male-specific cancer, with testicular and penile cancer being relatively uncommon. Prostate cancer has experienced advances in treatment in recent years, although unmet needs still exist with potential solutions being studied. Indeed, if diagnosed and treated in its early stages, prostate cancer has a very good prognosis, with 100% of patients living beyond five years. However, if the cancer has spread it becomes more difficult treat and there remains a need for effective therapies for metastatic prostate cancer and castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Other male cancers tend be relatively rare, which makes them less of a priority for research and development. Indeed, compared with many female cancers, male cancers receive less attention and lower levels of funding, being seen as the poor relation.

Changing attitudes and encouraging more health-aware behavior is critical to ensure traditional failures in addressing men's health issues are overcome in the future. It is commonly recognized that men tend to hide anxiety and concern about their health and only visit the doctor when symptoms become unmanageable. As such, small changes in the way in which healthcare can be accessed in order to recognize the different pressures and priorities exerting an influence on men will help increase the number of men seeking HCP advice and the frequency with which this occurs. To this end, the concept of treating the whole man is gaining traction and becoming the standard of care for many. Going forward, it is expected that this will change the management of men's health, with primary care taking greater control of the overall care, and specialists having a role where needed for specific conditions and diseases. Furthermore, physicians and healthcare providers are recognizing that specific measures need to be put in place to ensure that men feel comfortable seeking medical advice and are adapting their approach accordingly to ensure more beneficial management of men's health issues.

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