Men are nearly twice as likely as women to develop and die from all types of cancer that can affect both sexes, according to a report published by cancer organisations.

The report, Tackling the Excess Incidence of Cancer in Men, by the Men's Health Forum, Macmillan Cancer Support and other organisations, found that policies aimed at preventing cancer in men are being hampered by misconceptions and a lack of knowledge.

The report says one reason for the difference in mortality rates is that men are more likely than women to delay seeking help once they have developed potential cancer symptoms. It concluded that men's knowledge of the subject was 'poor'.

Men's Health Forum chair Professor Alan White said: 'The issue of men and cancer has been inexplicably neglected in the past. It is extraordinary that no systematic study of men's increased risk of cancer has yet been undertaken.'

Professor White called for an urgent review of existing evidence on men and cancer. He recommended a study of how men respond to the 'vocabulary' of cancer, particularly by looking at 'male sensitive' ways of communicating. He said there was also significant scope to extend the range of settings in which advice, information and basic treatment is provided.

The report has been sent to health secretary Patricia Hewitt and national cancer director Professor Mike Richards.