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by
Helen Smith

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April 17, 2012 - 5:17 am

I read a new book yesterday called The Great Experiment: The States, the Feds, and Your Healthcare that looks at the Massachussetts reform plan for health care and lays out the pros and cons.

However, what caught my eye was a figure in the book that looked at the rates of preventative health services in Massachussetts from 2004-2010. Men over 40 who had a prostate screening test in the past 2 years was only 50.9% in 2004, 56.1% in 2006, 58.5% in 2008 and 54% in 2010. Compare that to women over 40 getting a mammogram in the past 2 years: 82.5% in 2004, 84.8% in 2006, 84.9% in 2008 and 83.6% in 2010.

I wonder why so few men get prostate exams compared to women who get mammograms? I realize that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has told healthy men that they should no longer receive prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests as part of routine cancer screening. However, that is a fairly recent recommendation and wouldn’t have affected men in 2004.

I wonder if reluctance to seek medical care plays a part in why men die so much earlier than women?

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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