Phlebotomist Stacy Charles collects blood from Health Minister Terrance Dyalsingh for a PSA test which screens for prostate cancer during the Health Ministry’s Its All About Him: A Health Initiative for Men at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, on Saturday. – Anisto Alves
THE Ministry of Health, in a concerted effort to promote early detection of prostate cancer, hosted the launch of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, on Saturday morning.
The PSA test is more advanced than the digital rectal exam, and uses a blood sample as opposed to being a physical exam using a finger.
During the Men’s Day event, aimed at raising awareness and encouraging men to prioritise regular health check-ups, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh emphasised the importance of breaking the cultural norm of neglecting regular preventive healthcare check-ups.
Similar events were hosted at the Scarborough and Point Fortin hospitals, Port of Spain General Hospital.
Deyalsingh said, “We are changing attitudes amongst men.
“This gender-specific men’s initiative is to tackle the issue of prostate health. Prostate cancer is responsible for the highest level of cancer-related deaths in males – 34.5 per cent. The rate of prostate cancer among the Afro-Caribbean population is very high, because genetically the Afro-Caribbean population has a very aggressive form of prostate cancer.”
He said approximately 72 out of every 100 men will develop prostate cancer.
“So what we are trying to do here today is to catch you all early. Cancer progresses. Typically, if you delay understanding your prostate circumstance, you will end up feeling the symptoms at stages 2, 3 and 4.”
According to the ministry’s data, 51 per cent of all males with cancer are between 51 and 65.
“That is why we start to screen men once they reach 40, so we could catch you early, so you don’t become a statistic at age 50.”
Phlebotomist Stacy Charles collects blood from Tunapuna MP Esmond Forde for a PSA test which screens for prostate cancer, during the Health Ministry’s Its All About Him: A Health Initiative for Men at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, on Saturday. – Anisto Alves
He urged men to know their family medical history. “Prostate cancer accounts for 18.2 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in TT, which is amongst the highest of all cancers.
“So, men, get to know the state of your prostate health as early as possible. There’s the digital rectal exam or blood test .”
Deyalsingh told Newsday he anticipated 1,000 men would access the PSA test.
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales also urged men to take care of themselves. “It is believed that it is not masculine to visit a health facility and our health care providers on a regular basis, because it shows signs of weakness. This is a myth we need to remove from ourselves and our society.
“Our community, our families, need us, gentlemen.
“When you look at the statistic as it relates to cancer and other preventable diseases affecting men, it paints a very gloomy picture. What have you have done here is show the entire world that we men in TT are taking our health very seriously.”
Gonzales said by having regular check-ups, men would also save the country hundreds of millions of dollars.
At the end of the event, Gonzales, Deyalsingh and Deputy House Speaker Esmond Forde were screened for prostate cancer through the PSA blood test.