Tobago men were urged to break the barrier and start the conversations of dealing with prostate cancer, during a seminar titled “Men look after your prostate” at the Scarborough Library recently.
Close to 300 men were present as the statistics involving prostate cancer was read out. This cancer remains a major issue in TT as it is common among African men. The men were startled after they were told death as a result of prostate cancer in the Caribbean was among the highest in the world.
Professor Trevor Alleyne, chairman of the TT Chapter of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences and Professor, Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, St. Augustine in his presentation added that the ratio of deaths in Caribbean was three times that of the USA and twice as many than Australia.
He believes this high mortality rate could be caused by two factors.
“Some of the drugs that work well with people from other nationality are not working that well with people from the Caribbean region. It is also most people of African decent. If that’s the case, if it is not working well for everyone then we need some new drugs.”
He believes the second reason is because Caribbean men refuse to test for prostate cancer and when they eventually do, it’s too late.
Alleyne said the focus now is to aggressively begin conversations on the benefits of testing and early screening. In doing so, he said the mission was to reduce the amount of deaths by prostate cancer within the next five years in TT.
Agatha Carrington, Secretary for the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development said in Tobago prostate cancer was a back burner issue that needs to be addressed and prioritised.
“We looked at the studies which suggest that there is need for some targeted approaches to change the high mortality so that they can be much lower. We want men to be aware that you will have early detection/prevention aimed at modifiable risk factors; so of which include, proper exercise and nutrition, no smoking.”
Carrington said taking preventative measures will reduce the burden on the health system.
“Also in our treatment centres we have hundreds of men who come to us for treatment and care and we are almost bursting at the seams at our clinics, and there we encourage you to present early.”
The men were given a short presentation on the type of diagnosis, the available treatment and counselling during and after the treatment.
Urologist Dr Darren Bissoon during his presentation urged men to break the culture of remaining silent on the issue.
“There is a ‘it can’t happen to me’ syndrome and that’s why I think every man should go tomorrow morning and check their prostate or have a conversation why it is important to check your prostate and watch your risk factor.
“It’s important to remember early prostate cancer has no symptoms. Some patients may have enlarged prostate because as you get older it grows bigger and it can cause various problems which may not relate to cancer, but it is a reason to check it. But don’t wait for a reason, if you do it will already be too late. Don’t wait for anything.”