A new pilot of the Government’s Be Clear on Cancer Campaign started in six London Boroughs this week (20 October 2014), specifically aimed at raising awareness of prostate cancer risk in Black men. A host of high profile names have got behind the campaign including EastEnders actor Rudolph Walker OBE and former England international footballer Les Ferdinand MBE.
You may remember that back in June our supporter campaigners came with us to Westminster to launch our Five inequalities, five solutions report that highlighted some of the big problems still faced by men with prostate cancer in the UK.
Two of those inequalities were about awareness and ethnicity – specifically that although Black men have double the average risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, awareness of prostate cancer is low in Black communities. In fact, our recent public awareness survey showed that 90 per cent of Black men are unaware that they’re at a higher than average risk of developing the disease.
So it's great news that, since we launched the report, the Government has taken action on this point. The next round of Be Clear on Cancer, which runs until 23 November, coinciding with Black History Month, will for the first time focus on prostate cancer in Black men - specifically on raising awareness of risk.
Prostate cancer has previously been left out of Government health awareness initiatives, since early prostate cancer usually does not have any symptoms
As part of the campaign, there will be posters and oyster card holders advertising that 1 in 4 Black men in the UK will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, a statistic we calculated and released this time last year. There will also be radio advertising, events at barbershops and hair salons and a ‘street team’ of volunteers wearing Prostate Cancer UK branded clothing and handing out our information booklets and pocket guide.
The key campaign message is: “If you are a Black man over 45 and want to discuss your personal risk of prostate cancer, visit your doctor”. The campaign will also highlight that early prostate cancer often has no obvious symptoms, but if found early treatment can be more effective and save lives.
The pilot scheme will run in six London Boroughs - Newham, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. These boroughs all have a high black population and a higher than average incidence rate of prostate cancer compared to England as a whole.
Government health awareness initiatives have so far been based on awareness of physical symptoms, but since early prostate cancer usually does not have any symptoms, prostate cancer has previously been left out.
EastEnders actor Rudolph Walker OBE (pictured above), Les Ferdinand and former footballers Mark Bright and Ade Akinbiyi are supporting the campaign. Rudolph Walker said: “Too many black guys are unaware of their increased risk and this needs to change if we are going to beat this disease. Men need to man up and take charge of their health.”
Les Ferdinand MBE, Former England international and Premier League coach said: “I lost my granddad to prostate cancer and that’s why I’m supporting the Be Clear on Cancer campaign.”
“We as black men need to openly discuss prostate cancer as we’re more at risk than any other ethnic group. The good news is that if it’s caught early, treatment is effective. So, if you are a black man, over the age of 45, don’t ignore this message. Speak to your doctor about your risk and what you can do about it."
The Be Clear on Cancer pilot is a tremendous step towards making sure more Black men are aware of their increased risk and will empower them to speak to their doctor about what options are available to them. If this campaign is successful, we would like to see the model developed in other areas of the UK with large Black populations, to help us ensure that every Black man in the country knows their risk.