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Prostate cancer most lethal in Jamaica

By Dr Belinda F Morrison Urologist and Lecturer, University of the West Indies Contact- Belinda.morrison02@uwimona.edu.jm
Monday, September 02, 2013


September is recognised internationally as prostate cancer awareness month. I think it's pertinent to discuss the leading cancer affecting men in Jamaica over the next few weeks.

How common is prostate cancer?

Of all the cancers recorded in Jamaica, prostate cancer is ranked number one with respect to frequency. The incidence rate (number of cases per 100,000 men in the population) has been previously reported to be the highest in the world (Glover F, 1998).

Is prostate cancer the most lethal cancer in Jamaica?

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Indeed, prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Jamaica. Results from a study in 1999 (Blake G, 1999) suggested that the mortality rate of prostate cancer is one of the highest in the world.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

The risk factors for prostate cancer may be modifiable and non-modifiable.

Non-modifiable risk factors include:

Age — Prostate cancer is a disease of the ageing male. The incidence rate increases significantly over the age of 40 years. However, the disease is most common over 50 years. Though not very common in men younger than 40 years, cases have been diagnosed particularly in men with a strong family history.

Race — Men of African ethnicity are at highest risk of developing prostate cancer. In the USA, black men have the highest rate of prostate cancer and are at a two-fold increased risk of being diagnosed compared to Caucasians. A similar pattern is seen in the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.

Family history — Men with a family history of prostate cancer are at a higher risk of developing the disease than men without a family history. The risk is doubled if there is one family member diagnosed with the disease and multiplied by five if there are two family members with it. A diagnosis of "hereditary prostate cancer" is made if there are three first-degree relatives with the disease or two first-degree relatives diagnosed before age 55 years.

Modifiable risk factors include:

Diet — Diet appears to be the only strong modifiable risk factor for prostate cancer. A diet with a high caloric content, rich in red meat, fats and processed food but low in fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber is implicated in causing prostate cancer.

In the next issue, we will discuss how screening may reduce the death rate from prostate cancer.

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