Prostate cancer is a serious problem in the Caribbean
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer diagnoses and sixth most common cause of death from cancer among men globally. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), prostate cancer has led male cancer incidence, or new diagnoses, in 96 countries since 2012 and it is the leading cause of death among men in 51 countries.” (2019)
A recent study from the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that prostate cancer accounts for 18% – 47% of cancer deaths in the Caribbean region, making it the leading cause of male cancer deaths and the third leading cause of male deaths overall.
In 2015, the age-standardized mortality rate from prostate cancer among Caribbean men was estimated to be 50 per 100,000, which is double the mortality rate of the United States and the United Kingdom. Despite the decrease in rates among many industrialized countries, the Caribbean rates have increased by nearly 40% since 1990.
In terms of overall rankings, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Barbados have the highest age standardised rates of cancer in the region, and the 1st, 2ndand 4thhighest rates in the world respectively. The Bahamas has the 14thhighest age standardized rate of prostate cancer in the world. (World Cancer Research Fund)
Statistics from the Bahamas are particularly disturbing. According to an October 2019 article in Uro Today, 70-80% of Bahamian patients present with advanced prostate cancer which indicates that late screening is a major issue.
According to the WHO, the highest global mortality rates from prostate cancer between 2008 and 2012 included Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba.
In addition to ancestral and genetic predisposition to the disease, there are also many cultural and social norms that are contributing to these disturbing trends. Caribbean men can lower their risk by limiting high-fat foods, increasing their intake of vegetables and fruits, being active and engaging in regular screening after the age of 40.