Sun | Dec 4, 2022

Ministry looks to women to drive prostate cancer awareness

Published:Friday | September 30, 2022 | 12:11 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says his ministry will have to employ fresh approaches to spreading awareness about prostate cancer, including engaging women to persuade men to get screened.

Tufton was speaking on Wednesday during a panel discussion hosted by the Montego Bay-based Hospiten in recognition of the September celebration of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

“ ... Our women are very influential. Clearly, they want their men to be around for them and for their families, and they can weigh in heavily – even more than any health system or any advertisement can do,” said Tufton.

“We are going to have to do a lot more community intervention ... . It will be in terms of getting the mobile clinics out there, collaborating in public-private partnerships, and getting our men to be convinced that it is worth it to get tested and that their lives can be saved through early detection,” Tufton added.

Hospiten-based urologist Dr Dean Wong supported the idea of getting women to drive awareness.

“Where we fail to educate the men on the screening, I think we just need to have the women carry the torch. We look at life expectancy, which we calculate based on different parameters, and a man’s life expectancy is linked to if he has a partner – a woman – and her life expectancy and lifestyle. She will not let him take care of himself, but she will force him to go to the doctor,” said Wong.

Tufton said that special focus would also be given to the ministry’s Boss Man programme, which was launched in September 2019 to destigmatise the screening process and help people understand the benefits of early detection at the community level.

In 2020, Jamaica recorded 1,561 new cases of prostate cancer, the most prevalent cancer in the country and the leading local cause of cancer-related death in men.

Four out of every five Jamaican men with prostate cancer are diagnosed at age 65 or older while it is estimated that 304 out of every 100,000 adult males in Jamaica will be diagnosed with the disease.