The second ECCO study to look at patient management issues addressed the question of apparent gender bias in meeting cancer sufferers' preferences for male or female healthcare providers. It is well known that women show a strong preference for female physicians, especially during pelvic exams, yet the attitudes and preferences of male cancer sufferers have thus far been overlooked. To redress this balance, UK investigators assessed the attitude of male urological cancer patients towards female physicians, nurses and chaperones.
The results revealed that a minority of male patients (11% with prostate cancer and 11% with testicular cancer) preferred to consult a male doctor, yet none of the men expressed a preference for a female doctor. 10% of patients did not feel comfortable discussing personal/sexual issues with a female doctor and 56% did not like the presence of a nurse during consultation with the doctor. In particular, 12% of men did not feel comfortable discussing personal/sexual issues with a male doctor in the presence of a female chaperone.
These study findings suggest that, whenever feasible, male patients, like their female counterparts, should be offered the option of seeing a male health professional. Since an increasing proportion of physicians are likely to be females in the near future
Contact: Kirsten Mason
Federation of European Cancer Societies