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Hockey fans treated to more than slap shot; how about prostate exam?

Milwaukee media loved this Movember promotion.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:

Milwaukee Admirals vice president of sales and marketing Mike Wojciechowski will undergo a prostate examination at Saturday night’s match against the Rockford Ice Hogs to raise awareness of men’s health issues….

The team is holding promotions during November to help raise money for the American Cancer Society in support of prostate cancer research and awareness.

Sports Illustrated reported:

The Admirals are not the first American minor league franchise to do this, actually. In July, the GM of the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans had the same exam while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

The Admirals are doing this is conjunction with “Movember,” which attempts to raise awareness for men’s health issues.

Milwaukee Magazine reported:

“…this will likely be the first (public screening event) featured on a jumbotron at a hockey game.

“Sometimes to raise awareness you have to take people out of your comfort zones,” says (a team official).

The Fox TV station in Milwaukee gave viewers video of the event. *  The story quoted a doctor saying “there’s debate about how often you screen and who you screen the important thing is to talk to your physician about it.”   But this story – and all the media messages we saw about this promotion – could have gone into more depth about the controversies surrounding prostate screening, and it would have only taken a few words to do so.

Allow me to offer a constructive criticism suggestion to sports teams like the Admirals, and to the media who cover their screening promotions.  Somehow, they must creatively find a way to provide more true awareness of questions about evidence, and of tradeoffs involved in screening.

The US Preventive Services Task Force states:

The main goal of a cancer screening test is to reduce the number of deaths from the disease. The Task Force found that among adult men, only a very small number, if any, would experience this benefit as a result of screening.

There is no way that people who heard about or saw the hockey prostate promotion got this message.  They should have.  Then, if they still want to go ahead with prostate screening, have at it.  But it’s not a slam dunk – or, in this case, more appropriately, a slap shot into an empty net.

* Note:  The TV reporter, Rachelle Baillon, is smart.  I know, because she was a journalism student at the University of Minnesota when I taught there.  And her Dad, Jeff, with KMSP-TV of Minneapolis, is a smart journalist who knows how deeply I dig into media messages about all screening tests.  So he knows that I’m an equal-opportunity-constructive-critic. 

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