Doctor reiterates call for men to get screened for prostate cancer

Dr Dwyne “Baba” Thwaites (file photo)
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By Carlena Knight

A local doctor is once again stressing the importance of men in Antigua and Barbuda to get screened for prostate cancer since early detection and treatment is key to saving lives.

Urologist and pioneer for awareness and treatment of prostate cancer in the twin island, Dr Dwayne ‘Baba’ Thwaites reiterated the call during an interview on state media to mark the observation of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which began on September 1..

He shared that it is even more important for men whose family has a history of the disease to be screened as it can be passed down through generations.

The doctor highlighted the importance of the public paying attention to cancers and other illnesses even though the world’s focus is on Covid-19.

“We are pushing for people to be aware that it does exist in the middle of Covid; we still have to look at other disease entities and prostate cancer is one of them. You need to still come out, you need to be aware Do Blue [foundation] is available we offer support and we offer help,” he said.

Despite his continued call for regular screening, the urologist admitted that Antigua and Barbuda has made significant strides in dealing with prostate cancer, as there has been an increase in the number of specialist doctors, the introduction of radiation treatment, and the possibility of performing surgeries.

He further mentioned that the prevalence rate is also decreasing for men in Antigua and Barbuda as well as opposed to other countries for early detection.

“We started out with a prevalence rate of about 2.9% to 3%. That is when we extrapolate at about 100,000, we will find about three persons with prostate cancer and as we went along for me it’s been about 13 years since we have been doing the screening that has dropped down from 1.9%-2% and when we look at prevalence in the US it’s about 3.14%.

“At one point in time there was a study done in Tobago and they had a prevalence rate of about 15.1% but from what I found in doing my research that it has stayed steady throughout the years and even in St Kitts and Nevis that prevalence rate is just about the same for the Eastern Caribbean. I know there is more data that shows that it’s more prolific in the Caribbean but in Antigua per say we have been able to manage and control,” he said.

However, he admitted that there has been an increase in the number of cases of late stage prostate cancer, and credited this to the fact that some men are not getting screened in time, or they are not doing regular screenings.

Although a number of events have been forced to be postponed due to Covid-19, such as the Do Blue Foundation’s fitness walk and jam, Thwaites revealed that the foundation in which he is a member, has been offering a lot of support.

Earlier this year, they distributed packages to some men who have prostate cancer and also even covered costs for eight men to be screened.

He also expressed the hope of forming a support group for men who are battling prostate cancer. Although it’s not clear what causes prostate cancer, there are some risk factors such as age, race, obesity and family history.

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