Categorized | National News

Local Researchers Join Global Search For Prostate Cancer Link In Blacks

Bahamian cancer researchers are stepping up their research efforts to determine why Prostate Cancer is so much more prevalent and aggressive in black males than their Caucasian counterparts.

The heightened local research is part of ongoing regional and global search to determine the facts relative to the disease and men of African descent. It also comes amidst local findings that the disease is impacting Black, Bahamian males at a far greater rate than their Caucasian brothers.

According to renowned Bahamian urologist and Director of the University of West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research, Bahamas Campus, Dr. Robin Roberts, prostate cancer has become a major public health issue in The Bahamas – particularly for black, Bahamian males, as an average of two new cases are being diagnosed on a weekly basis.

Statistics further show that one Bahamian male dies from prostate cancer every two weeks.

“Age-for-age, we have a disease that occurs at an earlier onset than when it occurs, is at a more advanced stage than when found in our Caucasian counterparts, and a disease that grows more quickly; spreads more quickly and is more likely to result in death for males of African descent and so there is no denying that it is of major significance for black men,” Dr. Roberts said.

“We are trying to find out why there is this difference,” Dr. Roberts continued, “one would automatically think it is because of a lack of education; because of a lack of access to healthcare, or of a lack of affordability (and) while those things may – in some instances – turn out to have some merit, by and large, when we do studies that wipe out all of those differences; when we level the playing field in terms of getting them educated, in terms of getting them the same kind of healthcare as their Caucasian counterparts, we do pick up the disease earlier, but the disease has still grown more quickly and is much more aggressive in Black men.

“So there is something about the biology of prostate cancer in black men that is different,” Dr. Roberts added.

Dr. Roberts said local researchers will also take a look at both the potential cultural and biological causes for the imbalance in order to fully understand the “complexities” involved with the disease and its impact on Black men in particular.

He said part of that cultural research will involve trying to determine why “men in our country who, although they know about prostate cancer, who know they may be at risk, still do not go and get tested.”

“So what is it that makes them take this approach. What is it in their culture that makes them act this way? Those are important areas in our research if we want to learn where those barriers are and how do we overcome them,” Dr. Roberts said.

“On the other side, if we look purely at the biology of the cancer, we are going to address what are the factors – from a research perspective – that cause the cancer to be so aggressive in Black men.

“We realise this requires a lot of high-level research and scientific expertise, and can be very expensive because we are now entering the field of genetics,” Dr. Roberts continued, “so what it says to us in developing countries is that we have to form relationships with those countries that have that level of financial assistance and the technology for us to be able to collaborate with them and share our resources and share the information.”

Dr. Roberts said the recently concluded Second Biennial Science of Global Prostate Cancer Disparities in Black Men Conference, held at the SuperClubs Breezes Resort, allowed experts, researchers and scientists from Africa, the Caribbean, the United States of America and Great Britain the opportunity to do just that.

“Male and female experts from around the globe all gathered in one place to meet and discuss and share and so this was a great opportunity for us in The Bahamas that really put us on the map with regards to prostate cancer research,” Dr. Roberts added.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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