Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2016 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt November 23 - 29 2016
Prostate cases 10th highest in world
Health officials in Tobago are seeking to
screen at least 35 men daily for prostate
This as authorities are currently on a pub-
lic education drive to reach as many Afro-Ca-
ribbean men as possible, as studies have
shown that this group has the highest risk
of developing prostate cancer.
The issue was just one of many topics
covered during a Cancer Awareness and
Education Workshop at the Scarborough
Library Facility, as part of the recent Bovell
Cancer and Diabetes Foundation's outreach
In presenting the research to back up his
statement on the link between Afro-Carib-
bean men and the high rate of prostate can-
cer, Dr Anthony Thompson said studies on
Afro-Caribbean men indicate that they are
more predisposed to prostate cancer than
any other race.
He revealed some startling statistics.
"The Dr Allan Patrick Tobago Prostate
Cancer Survey, which ran September 1997
to June 2001, looked at African males in
Tobago between 40 to 79 and looked at 4000
men in all. In essence, what it revealed was
if I took a 100 men and did prostate screen-
ing, and by screening I mean a PSA blood
test, out of 100 men 31 had abnormal results.
That is 31 men who we need to take a clos-
er look at, and of those 31 men 12 would
have been confirmed by a biopsy to have
Thompson said those figures are defi-
nitely a cause for concern.
"Prostate cancer is responsible for 16 deaths
per year in Tobago and now you have to
remember that we see about a little over
300 deaths per year," he said.
"It is alarming because that means pros-
tate cancer is the sixth leading cause of death
among males and this is actually six times
the world's average. We get about 55 new
cases diagnosed per year, which is ten times
the world average."
He said at those rates prostate cancer could
be considered part of the island's heritage.
He added that studies have also found
that most men are hesitant to get tested due
to their reluctance to undergo the rectal
"If you invite men that are willing to do
something, initially they will accept that they
need to be tested, but the hesitation usual-
ly steps in when they are faced with the
rectal exam. But we have also found that a
lot of men are more than willing to take the
The PSA test is a blood test used primar-
ily to screen for prostate cancer. The test
measures the amount of prostate-specific
antigen (PSA) in the blood. PSA is a protein
produced by both cancerous and non-can-
cerous tissue in the prostate, a small gland
that sits below a man's bladder.
Thompson said although prostate cancer
is so common, only one out of every eight
people diagnosed with the disease will die
from it. He noted that the statistics showed
that there is a wide range of prostate cancers:
some are very aggressive while others act
very slowly. However, he maintained that
since the risk of being diagnosed is so high,
all men over the age of 45 should get tested.
The prostate is a gland in the male repro-
ductive system. It makes most of the semen
that carries sperm. The walnut-sized gland
is located beneath the bladder and sur-
rounds the upper part of the urethra, the
tube that carries urine from the bladder.
Prostate cancer is usually a very slow
growing cancer, often causing no symptoms
until it is in an advanced stage. Most men
with prostate cancer die of other causes,
and many never know that they had the
disease. But once prostate cancer begins
to grow quickly or spreads outside the
prostate, it is dangerous.
Doctors don't know what causes pros-
tate cancer, but diet contributes to the
risk. Men who eat lots of fat from red
meat are most likely to have prostate can-
cer. Eating meat may be risky for other
reasons: Meat cooked at high temperatures
produces cancer-causing substances that
affect the prostate. The disease is much
more common in countries where meat
and dairy products are common than in
countries where the diet consists of rice,
soybean products, and vegetables. Not
exercising also makes prostate cancer more
Some prostate cancer signs include:
• Burning or pain during urination.
• Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stop-
ping while urinating.
• More frequent urges to urinate at night.
• Loss of bladder control.
• Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream.
• Blood in urine (hematuria)
Treatments for prostate cancer
If the cancer is small and contained -
localised - it is usually managed by one
of the following treatments:
Watchful waiting - not immediate treat-
ment is carried out. PSA blood levels are
Radical prostatectomy - the prostate is
Brachytherapy - radioactive seeds are
implanted into the prostate.
Conformal radiotherapy - the radiation
beams are shaped so that the region where
they overlap is as close to the same shape
as the organ or region that requires treat-
ment, thus minimising healthy tissue expo-
sure to radiation.
Intensity modulated radiotherapy -
beams with variable intensity are used. An
advanced form of conformal radiotherapy
usually delivered by a computer-controlled
A woman gets ready to have her blood sugar level tested at one of the booths.
This woman takes a look at one of the displays at the recent Diabetes in the Limelight Jamboree hosted by the Bovell Cancer and Diabetes
Foundation at the Cyd Gary Stadium last week. The foundation also held a caravan focussing on both cancer and diabetes.
Health care pro worried about Tobago cancer figures
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