Men warned to change attitude towards prostate cancer screening
Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Despite the fact that prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Jamaica and the Caribbean, men continue to turn a blind eye towards getting tested.
Dr Belinda Morrison, consultant urologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies' Mona Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) is urging men to take charge of their health and change their attitude towards getting screened.
"If you look at all the people who get cancer in Jamaica, both men and women, prostate cancer is number one. In fact, the Caribbean is said to have the highest death rate for prostate cancer in the world," Morrison told The Gleaner.
She went on to list several risk factors that are associated with prostate cancer, such as advanced age, diet, family history, and race.
Morrison said getting men to come in and do early screenings was one of the major issues in Jamaica.
"We are not practising widespread screening ... . In the United States (US), they have implemented widespread screening for all men from they are at the age of 40. The whole issue of prostate cancer is discussed with them and the pros and cons of screening are discussed, then they decide whether or not they want to be screened and, because of that, 90 per cent of the men that are diagnosed in the US are diagnosed at an early stage," she said.
"As for us, we still do not have widespread screening and men only commit when they are having symptoms. The other issue with screening is men being afraid of the testing. They are afraid of having the rectal exam done and being told that they could potentially have a cancer," Morrison added.
Deacon Clive Chambers, a 63-year-old prostate cancer survivor, reiterated that early detection was vital.
"There is a great fear among Jamaican men about doing the rectal examination because the prostate is located near to the anus and the easiest way is to access through the anus. What they do is insert a finger into the anus and feel the prostate; when it has cancer, it feels harder. Through this they can tell if it is a dangerous situation, and for me it saved my life," he told The Gleaner.
Morrison stated that one of the measures that will be taken in fighting prostate cancer will be through public education.
"Any method to increase public education is significant, as people need to be more aware of their health.
"Jamaica has all the facilities for treatment, surgical skill is here, and urologists are trained to do operations. The options for treatment are here. It's just a matter of people changing their perception to their health, especially the men coming in for screening," she said.