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Regional Medical Epidemiologist, Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Dr. Maung Aung, says Government is intensifying efforts to increase regular targeted screening for prostate cancer in men over 40 years old in western Jamaica.

Speaking at a teleconference on August 12, Dr. Aung said special emphasis will be placed on men with non-modifiable cancer risk factors, including genetics, as well as modifiable cancer risk factors, such as health behaviours and lifestyle factors.

“We are going to be focusing on our health education, and we are going to be focusing on prostate cancer screening for this particular age group, 40 years and older,” he said.

Citing findings from the Jamaica Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016-2017, Dr. Aung noted that only 28.2 per cent of men 40 years and over have ever done the digital rectal examination (DRE) used to screen for prostate cancer, which is cause for concern.

“[The other type] of diagnostic tool that we use is the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), which also tries to assess the health status of the prostate, and only 5.1 per cent of Jamaican men 40 years and older who were sent by their healthcare providers ever did the PSA test; so this is also alarming. Another study found that older men tend to screen for prostate cancer in Jamaica,” he said.

Dr. Aung also pointed out that based on research, men in the Corporate Area are more likely to turn up for prostate cancer screening, compared to men in western Jamaica, who have to be referred for screening by their general practitioner.

Against that background, Dr. Aung said the WRHA is working towards making screening a priority, both in public and private facilities in western Jamaica.

“Another case control study that we did in the western part of the country, including Westmoreland, revealed that most persons know about the screening for prostate but fail to visit their doctor for testing,” he noted.

Prostate cancer is the most frequent cancer and the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, with regard to the female population, Dr. Aung informed that the WRHA will be taking a more active role in the early detection of breast and cervical cancer by ensuring more persons are screened.

“We have to be using our effort for the utilisation and effectiveness of screening, especially for mammography. That programme should be targeted by our healthcare professionals in the western part of the island, especially gynaecologists. They should engage and encourage their clients to have screening for their breast and cervix,” he said.

The teleconference was hosted by the Westmoreland-based MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to highlight statistics and trends relating to cancer in Westmoreland.

Teleconferences will continue through to December on the second Wednesday of each month from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 pm.

The events will be streamed on Zoom, JIS’s YouTube and Facebook pages, as well as the MistyBlue Cancer Care Foundation’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

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