Regular check-ups recommended for African Caribbean men to avoid prostate cancer

African Caribbean men have been advised by health care officials to make regular trips to their GPs to avoid developing one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the UK among men after lung cancer.

Recent Figures from Cancer Research shows that around 35,000 men are diagnosed every year with this form of cancer. But figures are higher among African Caribbean men, who are three times more likely to develop the disease compared to white men.

The Prostate Cancer Charity recommends that African Caribbean men make regular trips to their GP, since they are at greater risk.

According to a recent survey carried out by People with Voices, less than 50 per cent of African Caribbean men questioned make regular routine visits to their GPs.

We asked 10 African Caribbean men over the age of 40 whether they made regular visits to their GPs and if they were aware of any symptoms of prostate cancer.

Only two out of 10 questioned visit their GPs on a regular basis.

According to support and information specialist nurse Suresh Rambaran at The Prostate Cancer Charity, these results demonstrate a need to raise awareness about prostate cancer among African Caribbean communities since they are least likely to visit their GP unless something specific is wrong.

“One of the charity’s five goals is to raise awareness. This is important as men in general don’t like to get checked up at their GPs on a regular basis. Men from Afro Caribbean communities are reluctant to discuss these taboo issues surrounding prostate cancer.”

Prostate cancer is unidentifiable to most men as in most cases this type of cancer is a slow growing one.

Various cancer charities have stated that most patients will not experience any symptoms, making it difficult for a patient to make a self-diagnosis and say it is important for men to make regular visits in order to gain the best source of treatment following an earlier diagnosis.

Our survey also revealed that only 20 per cent of African Caribbean men are unaware of any symptoms for this disease.

The main symptoms for prostate cancer are a weak or reduced urine flow, a need to urinate more often – especially at night, pain when passing urine, blood in the urine or semen and pain when ejaculating.

There are many other symptoms involving the urine and bladder which could be a sign of prostate cancer amongst men especially those at a high risk.

A recent study carried out by the Medical Research Council and the National Cancer Institute revealed that men diagnosed with prostate cancer were 43 per cent less likely to die from the disease if they received radiotherapy as well as hormone therapy. Radiotherapy is an effective treatment for high risk men.

DE Botty Business, a play written by poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah and commissioned by The Prostate Cancer Charity was produced in 2008, to highlight the myths, taboos and fears connected to prostate cancer in black communities.

Specialist nurse Rambaran said that the play was an effective tool used by the charity to promote awareness about the disease among African Caribbean communities.

Playwright Benjamin Zephaniah said that people should feel free to talk openly about prostate cancer:

“Man and man must talk bout these things, is no shameful thing; you is not a man because you suffer in silence, you is not a man because you haven’t been to a doctor in twenty years.

“No man, we have to find another way. As man we must learn to communicate and really care about our bodies and ourselves.”