Men avoiding prostate screening, says urologist
Numbers increasing at a very slow pace
Too few Jamaican men are being tested for prostate cancer, says Dr William Aiken, consulting urologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Data from the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) showed that the organisation screened more than 20,000 women for breast and cervical cancer last year, he said. In the same period, fewer than 500 men were tested for prostate cancer.
"The JCS data give us some idea about the discrepancy in screening behaviour in men and women," Aiken said. He added that the split was also despite the fact that the tests for prostate cancer are simple and quick procedures.
"Prostate cancer can occur in men who are in their late 80s and 90s," he said. Those men will not die from the cancer, but from other illnesses.
The cancer often takes a very dangerous form for men in their 40s, 50s and 60s who develop it. He stated that, if left untreated, it will kill the patient, generally within 15 years.
"We are interested in the cancers which occur in these younger men," he said. "The cancers will definitely result in the death of these men if they are not found and treated."
Prostate cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death among Jamaican men, he said. However, it does not tend to show symptoms in the early stage.
"We recommend that screening begin at age 40," Carol Blair, JCS administrative director said, after a briefing at the JCS office in New Kingston on Monday. She said Jamaican men have the option of doing two simple tests that would detect prostate cancer early and allow it to be cured.
Slowly increasing numbers
"We want to ensure that people exercise responsibility for their health," she said. The number of men tested is increasing, but from a low base and at a slow pace.
The joint press conference between the JCS and the Jamaica Urological Society was called to announce the second annual benefit performance of Doctors on Stage for Cancer, slated for Sunday, March 7. Lincoln Robinson, chairman of the JCS Fundraising Com-mittee, said the performance would be held on the lawns of Jamaica House at 7 p.m.
"Doctors on Stage for Cancer will project a lighter side of the continuous and courageous battle with cancer," said Llewelyn Bailey, assistant general manager of Jamaica National Building Society.