Prostate Cancer Deaths Increasing – CMO


Prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of death for Jamaican males and the mortality rate has been increasing, said Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester.
The CMO, who was addressing a recent one-day conference at Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Rockefeller Research Laboratories in Manhattan, New York, to examine the impact of prostate cancer on Jamaican and African-American men, stated that the incidence rate for prostate cancer in Jamaica, which is 304 per 100,000 males, is the highest in any population.
She cited a high-fat diet, unhealthy lifestyle and fear of digital rectal examinations, as among the major challenges to the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer among Jamaican men.
Nurse consultant and past president of Jamaica Nurses Group of New York Inc., Ms. Claudette Powell, pointed out that Jamaican men tend to avoid seeing doctors and “get into the health-care system late,” while Registered Nurse at Greenwich Hospital,
Ms. Eleanor J. Edwards agreed that fear of impotence and “old feelings about being examined rectally” stopped many from seeking treatment. “The main issue is education, or the lack thereof,” she said.
In his presentation on managing the sexual complications of prostate cancer treatment, Attending Surgeon, Urology Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), Dr. John Mulhall, said that he sees “men in my office with tears in their eyes” over their problems with impotence. He added that many men are not given accurate information and have unrealistic expectations about sexual and urinary function after surgery.
Chief, Genitourinary Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dr. Howard Scher, who gave an overview of prostate cancer and recent advances, said that age, race, ethnicity and family history are definite factors in the incidence of prostate cancer.
He noted also that most men in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands do not have easy access to (Prostate-specific antigen) PSA screenings to detect prostate cancer in its early stages.
Research scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Mr. David Gallagher, who delved into the issue of genetics, made the startling statement that: “A Jamaican man is more likely to die of prostate cancer than men anywhere else in the world.”
Citing increased mortality rates for men of West African ancestry, he said Jamaican men were at risk because prostate cancer is the most inheritable cancer. Most Jamaican slaves came from West Africa.
Attending Physician, Genitourinary Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Dr. Lewis J. Kampel, also provided data to show that Caribbean men are twice as likely to get prostate cancer as white men, and African-American men in the United States have twice the mortality risk of white men.
Other presenters included Dr. Harold P. Freeman of Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, who examine the impact of poverty, culture and social injustice in detection and treatment; and Jamaican psychologist at Monroe College,
Dr. Christopher Charles, who gave a comprehensive lecture on the island’s history and ethnography and attending the conference titled: ‘Prostate Cancer: Current Status and Future Directions/Unique Impact on Caribbean and African-American Men’, was organised by the MSKCC in collaboration with the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York and attracted physicians, scientists, health-care professionals, community groups.
The free educational conference explored recent advances in prostate cancer research and examined issues that drive disparities in detection, treatment and mortality rates of prostate cancer.
Consul General, Mrs. Geneive Brown Metzger, noted that the Consulate’s partnership with MSKCC in hosting the event represents the start of a sustainable collaboration to benefit the community. “I hope it will lead to research and long-term collaboration between Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the medical community in Jamaica,” she stated.
Other sponsors included the Jamaica Diaspora Northeast Unites States, the Duncan Tree Foundation and the Organization for International Development.

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