- The Government, through its recently launched ‘Boss Man’ campaign is intensifying efforts to increase awareness about prostate cancer and the need for men to get regular checks.
- Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the key message is for men 40 years and older, to “boss up” and make screening for the cancer a part of their annual medical examination.
- “The message that we want to give is that prostate cancer, if detected early, can be treated in a way that gives you quality of life and we have a duty as men to do testing periodically,” he tells JIS News.
The Government, through its recently launched ‘Boss Man’ campaign is intensifying efforts to increase awareness about prostate cancer and the need for men to get regular checks.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the key message is for men 40 years and older, to “boss up” and make screening for the cancer a part of their annual medical examination.
“The message that we want to give is that prostate cancer, if detected early, can be treated in a way that gives you quality of life and we have a duty as men to do testing periodically,” he tells JIS News.
A total of 671 men died from prostate cancer in 2016, accounting for 19 per cent of the total cancer deaths on the island, and making prostate cancer a leading public health problem.
Minister Tufton laments that due to cultural beliefs many men continue to “shy away” from getting tested, and often when the cancer is discovered it is “far too late.”
“Most prostate cancer identified through screening do not need to be treated, and can be managed by active surveillance and close clinical monitoring,” he points out.
Dr. Tufton says that in addition to the significant cost to public health, cancer causes pain and suffering in families, loss of productive hours, and other negative impacts.
“It adds to the burden of the country’s health profile, and begs a response that goes beyond putting in place hospital beds and operating theatres, but also carrying a message to overcome some of the perceptions associated with the cancer,” he notes.
The ‘Boss Man’ initiative is being undertaken through sponsorship and collaboration with the Jamaica Cancer Society, Guardian Group, and the Guardsman Group.
A number of churches, municipal corporations, community groups, and uniformed organisations have come on board to stage health fairs to offer tests and screenings.
President of the Guardian Group, Eric Hosin, says his organisation is supporting the initiative because “we are very concerned and this is a great initiative, one that is certainly needed.”
“We have committed to spend $2.4 million on the Boss Man. It is a big man thing to get tested,” he says.
Executive Director of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Yulit Gordon, for her part, says the campaign is about encouraging all men to “take control” by doing regular checks.
“With the prevalence of prostate cancer in the Jamaican population, it is critical that we work together towards making screening a national policy,” she says.
“This should ensure that all males over the age of 40 have access to screening, both in our public and our private facilities,” she notes.
She says the role of female partners in encouraging their spouses to get tested and screened is also imperative.
Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Deacon, Clive Chambers, who is a 17-year prostate cancer survivor, says it is “very important to send the message that cancer is not a death sentence.”
“If you go and do the right thing, you can survive. Don’t be afraid, 15 seconds of discomfort can save your life from a lot of pain; and also save your life,” Deacon Chambers says, while stressing the need for strong family support.
Meanwhile, Minister Tufton says men 40 years and older are screened for prostate cancer at public health care facilities through Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), and Digital Rectal Examination (DRE).
He says that progress has been made in the upgrading of the radiotherapy services for cancer treatment, with two centres of excellence established.
“A proposed public/private partnership that will be implemented soon, should see improvements in diagnostic medical equipment in the major hospitals,” he adds.
Dr. Tufton notes further that under Priority 4 of the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Cancer, a proposal is in its final stages to improve the quality of life of persons living and affected by cancer, “through the provision of rehabilitative, supportive and palliative care in an integrated, equitable and sustainable way.”