Men wait until the last minute to go to their doctor. Because they wait, their cancers tend to be more advanced when they are finally diagnosed. Men are dying earlier because they don’t address medical or emotional complaints. This is the same pattern seen among teen boys who are less likely to go to the doctor for sexual health care, or complain of any medical symptoms.
The ripple effect of teen boys and then men not seeking medical care is huge. It means that teen boys with serious symptoms are diagnosed when the problems are more life threatening and sexually transmitted disease is spread to others, while their fathers suffer more complications and even death from preventable or treatable illness because they place such a low priority on seeking medical care.
What is this male culture?
There is a male culture that associates going to the doctor as a sign of weakness. Men who do seek care are more likely to do so for injuries associated with sports or labor. Of those teen boys who do seek care, they are more likely to do so when they have an open relationship with one or both parents.
Lance Armstrong who was fortunate enough to have survived a late stage testicular cancer excused obvious symptoms like coughing up blood and a grossly enlarged testicle attributing these symptoms to intensive training. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable cancers there is. It affects males between the ages of 15 and 40 without self-exams and seeking medical care at the earliest sign of a change testicular cancer can kill these men.
What is the current mode of attack?
The pharmaceutical companies and preventive health institutions have heretofore targeted wives, girlfriends and daughters to get their husbands, boyfriends and brothers to seek care yet with this media effort men are being diagnosed later and dying earlier. The effort has worked better for teen boys whose health care is still managed by their mothers.
How does the culture begin to change?
If the quality and the quantity of years that men are living are to improve, it is important that men begin to change the culture of seeking medical care from something weak men do, to something real men do. The new mode of attack will ask athletes to speak of their illnesses in addition to public service announcements, but the true way to change the culture of men is to change the culture of fathers. The same-sex parent is the most influential over the behaviors of that teen. Fathers who talk about the importance of health and seek medical care will be most likely to influence their teen boys to do the same.
However before that happens, the women who are most likely reading this article will have to convince these fathers, husbands and brothers to model the behavior of seeking medical care.