Men with Cancer are Less likely to Accept Palliative Care

According to a new study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, men with advanced cancer are 30 percent less likely than women to consider palliative care.

Scientists analyzed data from 383 individuals with advanced cancer between the ages of 22 and 90, who had been asked about their preferences for palliative care. Response options were: definitely no, possibly no, unsure, possibly yes, and definitely yes.

“Often men see themselves as the family protector,” says the study’s lead author, Fahad Saeed, a palliative care specialist and assistant professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “When struck with a serious illness they usually want to be cast as a “fighter” or a “warrior,” and may view palliative care as giving up, he explains.”

“There is an ethos of ‘fight, fight, fight,’ and there is nothing wrong with that,” says Timothy E. Quill, an expert in palliative care. “But if all you do is fight and you ignore the emotional and spiritual aspects of what’s happening, it’s a missed opportunity to look at life in a different way.”

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