Currently, there is a tragic lack of health-care information for men. Numerous programs alert women to the dangers of women's health
problems (breast cancer, cervical cancer, etc.). These programs actively encourage women to self-examine for female specific diseases and to have regular checkups. Many clinics are devoted solely to this important work.
Depending upon the specific disease, however, the number of such programs or clinics that exist for male-specific disorders ranges from few to none. No effective program exists which is devoted to awareness and
prevention of the leading killers of men.
a. Cancer and Heart Disease -- By the age of 75, men die of cancer at about twice the rate of women. Yet, there is little education for men in cancer self-detection and
prevention. There is no national educational campaign teaching men how to self-examine for testicular cancer, a leading killer of men from ages fifteen to forty. There is also a shocking lack of education concerning
prostate disease. One in five men can expect to develop
prostate cancer sometime in his life. This disease will take the lives of thirty thousand American men this year and the numbers are increasing each year.
Approximately one hundred thousand new cases are being reported annually.
While this disease responds well when diagnosed and treated early, it is a painful killer if allowed to persist for longer periods of time.
The early signs of prostate cancer are observable: restricted flow of urine, pain in the
prostate region or perineum. Later, sexual dysfunction can occur. But men are not educated to self-observe for this disease.
More importantly, they are not urged to undergo the simple digital examination which can detect
prostate disease. According to several reports, the
prostate digital exam is the test most frequently avoided or
over-looked in a general health examination. Every man over the age of forty should be getting a prostate examination at least every three years. Men over fifty should be examined every year. Unfortunately, only about
15% of men in this age group are examined. The result is hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths every decade.
Rectal cancer is also prevalent among men and suffers from the same lack of early detection.
Similarly, recent studies show that men are far less likely to do self-examinations or seek tests for melanoma and other deadly forms of skin cancer. For numerous cancers (as well as other diseases and disorders) the
pattern is clear and tragic. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education and the prevailing "heroic" cultural stereotypes that discourage men from taking an active interest in their health, millions of
men are dying unnecessarily early and painful deaths from cancers and other diseases that could be prevented.
Heart disease presents a similar picture. As noted above, heart disease is the leading killer of men and
kills men prematurely at many times the rate that it kills women. The National Institutes of Health and others have found that over three-quarters of all heart disease is related to diet and stress. Yet, studies show
that men are far less likely to show concern for their diets and for the stress levels in their lives than are women.
Men also need outreach and information on a variety of other male-specific (or dominant) diseases.
Stress contributes not only to heart disease, but also to other disorders. For example, over 80% of those suffering from peptic ulcers are men.
Sexually transmitted diseases are also a major concern. These diseases,
and especially the continuing AIDS pandemic, are taking a frightening toll on young men.
A central focus of the MHN will be information dissemination on cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases which
predominantly affect men. Working with its coalition members and other leading health care providers, the MHN will prepare detailed information brochures and focus media attention on these leading killers of men. The
MHN worked actively to establish "National Men's Health Week", the week leading up to and including Father's Day, as a focal point for awareness of prostate cancer and other significant male-specific diseases.
It will compile a comprehensive registry of doctors and clinics specializing in the treatment of male-specific cancers and related diseases. Each of the MHN information brochures and newsletters will prominently display
the MHN health telephone referral service 1-900-MENLINE. When calling this number, men and women can receive further information and educational material on men's health issues (as will be described below this health
hotline, also will include specific services for teenagers, veterans and fathers). Finally, MHN attorneys will actively seek greater participation by both national and state health agencies in educating men about male
specific diseases and disorders and for expending appropriate resources for research to find cures for these deadly diseases.
b. Accidents -- Over nine out of every ten fatal accidents in the workplace occur to men.
Workplace accidents kill thousands of men each year. Unfortunately, the priority given to workplace accident prevention by government and many businesses is low. As an example, the U.S. government currently employs six
times as many wildlife and fisheries inspectors as it does work safety inspectors. The MHN will work actively to increase the number of monitors of workplace safety and work cooperatively with the businesses which
employ men in dangerous jobs so that preventative measures can be taken to increase job safety. Saving men's lives must become a national priority.