The ‘Fa­mous Fin­gers’ cam­paign

Gloves meant to prod men to get tested for prostate cancer

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - LIFE - SH­ERYL UBELACKER

TORONTO — Prostate Cancer Canada is en­cour­ag­ing men to get tested for the po­ten­tially deadly dis­ease with a bold cam­paign that ref­er­ences his­tor­i­cal and fic­tional char­ac­ters in the form of la­tex gloves — yes, those donned by doc­tors for the of­ten dreaded dig­i­tal rec­tal exam meant to de­tect the pres­ence of tu­mours in the male sex gland.

Called Fa­mous Fin­gers, the cam­paign fea­tures 13 gloves — in­dex fin­gers raised — that are hand­painted with iconic de­signs for such lu­mi­nar­ies as Babe Ruth, Napoleon, and King Tut.

Each glove is ac­com­pa­nied by the fig­ure’s sig­na­ture ac­com­plish­ment. Take, for in­stance, Sher­lock Holmes: “His fin­ger cracked ev­ery case. Next up, your prostate?”

“Men may not like in­her­ently to be talk­ing about their prostate, but we do know they like talk­ing about movies and mu­sic and sports,” said Yaz Maziar, se­nior di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC).

“So when you have fig­ures in the cam­paign like Babe Ruth or Beethoven or Abe Lin­coln or Thor or Franken­stein, these are things that men will find hu­mour in,” he said. “This is help­ing guys have some fun con­ver­sa­tions on­line around an im­por­tant health topic.”

All lev­ity aside, Fa­mous Fin­gers isn’t so much about prod­ding men to get a dig­i­tal exam, but to dis­cuss

Of­ten­times when men start to ex­hibit symp­toms of prostate cancer, it’s al­ready late-stage and so the op­tions for treat­ment are re­duced, and ac­tu­ally you’re look­ing at a very ag­gres­sive form of treat­ment that may lead to men pass­ing away.”

Dr. stu­art ed­monds

prostate cancer with their doc­tor and to have a test that mea­sures the level of prostate spe­cific anti­gen, or PSA, in their blood, said Dr. Stu­art Ed­monds, PCC’s vice-pres­i­dent of re­search, health pro­mo­tion and sur­vivor­ship.

An el­e­vated level of PSA can be in­dica­tive of cancer and early de­tec­tion can make a crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence in the odds of sur­vival, said Ed­monds, not­ing that prostate cancer causes vir­tu­ally no symp­toms in its early stages.

“And of­ten­times when men start to ex­hibit symp­toms of prostate cancer, it’s al­ready late-stage and so the op­tions for treat­ment are re­duced, and ac­tu­ally you’re look­ing at a very ag­gres­sive form of treat­ment that may lead to men pass­ing away,” he said.

“So the idea is to de­tect prostate cancer early to be able to in­ter­vene, if nec­es­sary, early with ra­di­a­tion ther­apy or ... surgery. And if you can catch it when it’s still lo­cal­ized, the chances for sur­vival are close to 100 per cent. If you don’t catch it early and its metas­ta­sized, (five-year) sur­vival goes down to around 26, 27 per cent.”

In 2017, an es­ti­mated 21,300 Cana­dian men were di­ag­nosed with prostate cancer and 4,100 died from the dis­ease, says the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety. Prostate cancer is the third dead­li­est ma­lig­nancy among men.

De­spite controversy over PSA test­ing — in some cases, false pos­i­tives or mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of re­sults can lead to un­nec­es­sary or ex­ces­sive treat­ment — Ed­monds said Prostate Cancer Canada sup­ports its use and sug­gests men should start dis­cussing the is­sue with their doc­tors when they reach their 40s.

“What we’ve seen over the last 20 years is a 40 per cent re­duc­tion in the mor­tal­ity rate in Canada from prostate cancer,” said Ed­monds, who at­tributes much of that de­cline to PSA test­ing.

Yet many men are re­luc­tant to raise the sub­ject of test­ing for prostate cancer with their doc­tors, in part be­cause it means talk­ing about their uri­nary and sex­ual anatomy, he said. Treat­ment for prostate cancer can lead to uri­nary in­con­ti­nence and sex­ual dys­func­tion.

“There’s a sense of be­ing fal­li­ble, show­ing weakness, and we’re talk­ing about some­thing that can ac­tu­ally be emas­cu­lat­ing.”

The Fa­mous Fin­gers cam­paign “is a way of catch­ing peo­ple’s at­ten­tion,” Ed­monds said.

“We know that there are is­sues around men go­ing to get tested or ask ques­tions of their physi­cian about prostate cancer, and this is a way we can re­ally raise aware­ness and say it’s not a bad thing to have that dis­cus­sion, and it’s not a bad thing to get tested ei­ther.”

How­ever, a pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at Queen’s Univer­sity ’s School of Business sug­gests the cam­paign could fail to have its in­tended im­pact be­cause of its pointed fo­cus on rec­tal ex­ams.

“It’s hu­mor­ous, but frankly what the ad­ver­tise­ment will say to the av­er­age man is: ‘Why don’t you go and get a fin­ger put in your rec­tum and find out whether or not you have cancer,”’ Ken Wong said from Kingston, Ont. “It’s re­ally not a mes­sage that en­dears one to the idea of hav­ing an ex­am­i­na­tion.”

PROSTATE CANCER CANADA

A hand-painted Franken­stein glove is shown. Prostate Cancer Canada is en­cour­ag­ing men to get tested for the po­ten­tially deadly dis­ease with a bold cam­paign that ref­er­ences his­tor­i­cal and fic­tional char­ac­ters in the form of la­tex gloves, those donned by doc­tors for the of­ten dreaded dig­i­tal rec­tal exam meant to de­tect the pres­ence of tu­mours in the male sex gland.

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