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Men consult GP as readily as women for cancer symptoms

Differences in cancer mortality between men and women cannot be explained by the reluctance of male patients to go to see their GP, a UK study has found.

Researchers led by Professor Kate Hunt, from the University of Glasgow, used data from The Health Improvement Network general practice database to study the pattern of GP consultations among 27,622 patients subsequently diagnosed with colorectal cancer, lung cancer or malignant melanoma.

The team reported in PLoS One that men consulted slightly less often than women in the run-up to being diagnosed, at seven to 12 months, 13-18 months and 19-24 months prior to their diagnosis.

However, the researchers said, these differences were ‘surprisingly modest’.

The team concluded: ‘This study found that patterns of consulting prior to cancer diagnosis differed little between two genders, providing no support for the hypothesis that gender differences in survival are explained by gender differences in consultation for more serious illness, and suggests the need for a more critical view of gender and consultation.’

PLoS One 2014; available online 11 July

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