Decisions about screening for prostate and colon cancer require patients to have accurate, balanced information. Unfortunately, men are not getting this information from popular men’s magazines. When articles are available, they often do not provide the information necessary for the reader to make an informed decision about screening.
A recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine reviewed general messaging on prostate and colon cancer screening in popular magazines. In this study, the authors reviewed the top three magazines in six categories (African-American, Men’s, Women’s, News, General, and Health) with the highest circulation. According to the study, relatively few popular magazine articles provided in-depth information about prostate and colon cancer screening.
The study discovered that in-depth articles about these cancers do not appear as frequently as articles about breast cancer. In addition, key points missing from many of the magazine articles were: the relative importance of the various cancer risk factors, risk factors that should lead to earlier screening, and the potential harms, complications, and uncertainties associated with a screening test.
This lack of information may help to explain the public’s misperception about the risk of the different types of cancer, as well as the low awareness of the importance of screening for colon cancer and the lack of appreciation of the pros and cons associated with prostate cancer screening.