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New report seeks to tackle male cancer inequalities

A new report published by the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) highlights the actions that could be taken to reduce the burden that cancer has on men's health.

While the report focuses on men in Europe, many of the recommendations will be of interest to anyone concerned with reducing the impact that cancer has on the health and life expectancy of men in Australia.

The ECO is a not-for-profit federation of Member Societies working in cancer at a European level. ECO has a particular focus on tackling "cancer inequalities", which includes a focus on gender inequalities.

Men in Europe bear an excess burden of cancer, in terms of both incidence and mortality. In the EU-27 in 2020, there were 1.44 million cancer cases in men and 1.24 million in women. 705,000 men died from cancer compared to 555,000 women. Excluding breast cancer (which is rare in men) and the sex-specific cancers (such as cervical and prostate cancers), the incidence and mortality rates for all cancers are higher in men except for thyroid and gallbladder cancers.

Similarly in Australia, men bear an excess burden of cancer in terms of incidence and mortality. In 2021, there were 80,000 cancer cases in men and 70,000 in women. Cancer killed nearly 50,000 Australians in 2021: approximately 28,000 men and 22,000 women. Reducing cancer deaths in men to the same level as cancer deaths in women would save the lives of 6,000 Australian men a year.  

The ECO report - Men and Cancer: Raising the issues - provides a detailed account of the presentations and contributions shared during the April 2022 ECO Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on Men and Cancer.

Four key recommendations emerged from the roundtable:

1. The excess burden of cancer in men must be addressed as part of the effort to address inequalities in cancer outcomes.

2. A male-targeted approach can help to change men’s health behaviours and improve their use of services. There is good evidence that, for example, delivering health programs at football stadiums can make a positive difference to weight loss and physical activity.

3. Prostate cancer programs should be introduced on a systematic basis. There is now clear evidence supporting risk-stratified screening while reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies and avoiding over-treatment.

4. Tailored policy responses on men and cancer are required at the European and national levels. These include the development of national men’s health policies and including gender as a core indicator in cancer and wider health policies.


Read: New Action Report - Men and Cancer: Raising the Issues (ECO article)

Watch: Men and Cancer Roundtable Meeting videos

Download: Men and Cancer: Raising the Issues Action Report

Find Statistics: Cancer in Australia 2021


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