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Hundreds of men turn out for prostate screening in MoBay

Published:Saturday | October 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:Close to 600 men from St James and neighbouring parishes came out for prostate screening at the third annual Prostate Cancer Screening Day, held by the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East at the Montego Bay Civic Centre last Monday.

Urologist, Dr Tasha Cooke, said she was satisfied with the increased number of men who attended the screening, which she said was also a strong indication that more Jamaican men are becoming health conscious.

She said prostate screening throughout the island was still being hampered by a high level of homophobia, as the majority of men still are refusing to have the exams conducted by male doctors. The urologist is encouraging those men to look beyond their fears, as the best treatment options can only come through early detection.

"The objective is being achieved where we are increasing the awareness of health and prostate cancer screening in Jamaica. People are getting the message and they are coming out. I also think some of the myths associated with having a prostate exam are slowly being erased and persons are far more willing now to put their health first ... . People are becoming more educated and more informed and they are feeling more empowered and are realising that their health is important," Dr Cooke said.

The clients, aged 40 and over, arrived at the venue from as early as 5 a.m. to wait in line in a bid to get their prostates examined. Among the participants was 67-year-old Montegonian Daniel Irving, who was having his first prostate exam.

Irving said even though his body felt healthy, he still wanted to know whether he had the cancer, as in its earliest stages few symptoms are shown.

"This is my first test, and though I currently have no form of sickness and I feel very fit in my body, I still wanted to know," Irving said. "Prostate cancer is killing off a lot of men in this country and we can prevent that by attending these screenings to find out if we have the disease or not."

Head of Urology at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Dr Roy McGregor, told Western Focus that it was very crucial that Jamaican men get their prostates checked due to the country's high prostate cancer prevalence rate.

"Jamaica has one of the highest incidences of prostate cancer in the world, and our population tends to get a more aggressive form of cancer ... so if ever there is a group of people that needs screening, it is Jamaicans," he said.

"In about 10-15 per cent of prostate cancers, the blood test is normal, so you can't diagnose it just on the blood test. Patients also have to do a rectal examination so we can look at the two parameters and then, if either of those two parameters is abnormal, then we send the patient in for a biopsy to determine if they have the disease," Dr McGregor added.

The event sponsors included the Jamaica Cancer Society, Architectural Point, Discount Lumber and Hardware, Urology West, I.D. Warehouse, Rainforest Seafoods, Jamaican National Building Society, National Health Fund and the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East.