Women at forefront of prostate-cancer fight
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
One might have thought that prostate cancer was solely a male concern but, if yesterday's turnout for Cancer Awareness Day at the Jamaica Cancer Society is anything to go by, women are demonstrating that they are just as keen to understand the disease.
Of the hundreds of people who turned out for the event in recognition of Prostate Cancer Month, almost half were women giving support to their partners.
Alvaree Kerr, who was busy participating in different group sessions, said she had to haul her husband out of the house.
"I am here with my husband because he is over 50 and I am aware that at his age, he is at risk to get prostate cancer," Kerr said. "I asked him to come and he hesitated, so I had to force him to come."
As the number of prostate-cancer cases continue to increase in Jamaica, Dr William Aiken, urologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies, painted a worrying picture of the illness.
Aiken said prostate cancer was the most common cause of cancer deaths in men in the island.
Though unable to give statistics to show the increase, Aiken noted that in Kingston and St Andrew, 69 in every 100,000 men developed prostate cancer each year.
Male interest lacking
Carol Blair, administrative director at the society, charged that far too few men were showing interest in doing their checks for the cancer.
She said 464 men were screened last year at the Cancer Society, compared to 13,000 women who took Pap smears and 7,000 women who did mammograms.
Blair noted that, to date, only 263 men have shown up for testing at the society this year, which showed that there was a further decrease in the number of men getting tested.
"Today is part of our effort to increase the awareness to encourage men to take responsibility," she said.
"We have to do something to get the men to understand that there is nothing to be fearful of, it is something that they must do because black men are at high risk."
Blair asked that men 40 and over take responsibility for their health by getting tested for prostate cancer.
Dr Aldyth Buckland, president of the Association of General Practitioners of Jamaica, encouraged the men to take control of their health and reduce their cancer risk.
She urged them to eat a healthy diet and stay away from unhealthy practices such as smoking.