High rate of prostate cancer among black men in the Caribbean

Urologist Dr. Dwayne Thwaites

More men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer, a disease that seems to be appearing in younger men in recent times. The disease which seems to affecting black males in the Caribbean is one that is of great concern to Urologist Dr. Dwayne Thwaites.

Dr. Dwayne Thwaites
Dr. Dwayne Thwaites

“When we look the whole Caribbean as an entity, and knowing the Caribbean population is predominantly black, we do see a high almost to epidemic proportion of prostate cancer,” he told whatsupcaribbean.
Thwaites an Antiguan by birth says they have been looking at prostate cancer in black men in the Caribbean and have been trying to get the message across Prostate Screening, should be done.

Contrary to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force who have said that screening should be discontinued, Thwaites believe that it is important to continue the screening for “such a high risk population in the Caribbean.”

He called it unfair that the Task Force have looked at a set of data that has suggested that doctors are over-diagnosing and over treating and are picking up disease that may not need to be treated.
He noted that in recent times there has been an aggressive type of cancer in the younger population and cancer concentrating certain age groups. This is more than convincing evidence and reason men to be screened.

In The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) study, Dr Thwaites says no mention of the black population was contained. Even in the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC), they did not account for the black population. This he stressed is a big issue as to how the Task Force came to the conclusion that there is screening should be halted, when the high risk black population was not included in these studies.

Despite that barrier he says men understand the importance of getting tested early.
This is his seventh year of research and looking at screening in the Caribbean in predominantly black community. He is looking at extending his research to twelve years…. By extending the study he says the results will be better.
Dr. Thwaites conducts screening annually in St. Kitts/Nevis and Antigua. He says what he has been finding is a decrease in prostate cancer in Nevis as compared to in St. Kitts where no screening is done.

“Last year I did about 20 biopsies in St. Kitts, and about 15 came back with prostate cancer, in comparison to my 20 that I do in Nevis, where I find 2 or 3 cancer, so you can see that there is definitely a shift because of screening. So we got evidence we just got to get the data out there, and that is how we can change things, he emphasized.

He is elated that men are coming out in their numbers in Nevis and Antigua to get tested. He says when they began doing the screening; there were about 80 patients out in both islands.
“Last year in Antigua we screened 600, and Nevis we screened 485, so what we are seeing now is that people are coming out and not just the older population but the younger ones are also coming out,” he stressed.

With greater awareness he believe that more men will realize how important it is to get tested, he is also calling on wives and women to encourage their spouse to get on board.

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