Dealing with Prostate Cancer

In honour of Prostate Awareness Day, September 6,  we have dug up some information on this disease that continues to plague Jamaica.



Prostate cancer is typically a very slow growing tumor in the prostate gland, which is that part of the male reproductive system that produces the majority of seminal fluid that carries sperm. The prostate gland is the size of a walnut and is located beneath a man’s bladder and surrounds the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

Although prostate cancer progresses slowly, it is fatal if it spreads beyond the prostate gland itself to the lungs, bones or other distant tissues. This is called metastatic prostate cancer and there is no cure for it at this time.



African-American and Jamaican men of African descent have the highest prostate-cancer incidence and mortality rates in the world.

Although scientists and doctors have been unable to pin down a reason for prostate cancer’s prevalence among men of African descent, there are some common factors that could increase one’s chances of developing the disease:


  • Four out of five cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in men over 65.
  • Less than 1% of men under 50 are diagnosed with the disease but it can be seen in men in their 30s and 40s.

Family History

  • Men with a family history of prostate cancer are more likely to develop the disease than the general population.

Dietary Factors

  • Men who consume a large amount of animal fat, especially from red meat are at risk.
  • Fat stimulates the production of testosterone that accelerates the growth of prostate cancer.
  • The disease is common in countries where meat and dairy products are dietary staples

Work history

  • Men who have worked in welding, battery manufacturing, rubber works, and workers frequently exposed to the metal cadmium seem to be abnormally vulnerable to prostate cancer.

Sedentary lifestyle

  • Lack of physical activity has also been cited as a risk factor



Currently there is no conclusive evidence that links sexual activity either to the increased risk for prostate cancer or as a preventative measure.

There is also no proven link exists between prostate cancer and vasectomy, masturbation, use of alcohol or tobacco, circumcision, infertility, infection of the prostate, or a common noncancerous condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is associated with an enlarged prostate gland.

Click here for The Truth aboout Sex and Prostate Cancer



All men are at risk of developing prostate cancer and the risk increases as the man grows older.

Prostate cancer frequently develops with no noticeable signs. It is a slow-growing disease but possible symptoms include:

  • Inability to urinate (difficulty starting or stopping)
  • Frequent urination(especially at night)
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating or ejaculating
  • Blood or pus in the urine or semen
  • Persistent pain in the back, hips and pelvis, fatigue and anaemia may suggest prostate cancer even when other symptoms are absent.



Fact #1: One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.

Fact #2: Two thirds of men who die from prostate cancer, were never diagnosed

Fact #3: Only 1 in 35 men actually die from prostate cancer.

Fact#4: early detection could make a 10 to 15-year life or death difference.

The US-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) maintains a national database on survival statistics for different types of cancer. They have broken down the survival rates based on the progression of the disease.

At the local stage, which means that there are no signs that the cancer has spread outside of the prostate, the survival rate is nearly 100%. Four out of five prostate cancers are found in this stage.

At the regional stage, which means the cancer has spread from the prostate to nearby tissues the survival rate is 100%.

At the distant stage, when the cancer has spread to distant tissues such as the lymph nodes, bones, or other organs, the survival rate plummets to 29%.

Still Willing to wait it out? Take the Prostate Cancer Quiz



An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure and in relation to prostate cancer this saying could not be truer. Early detection is the best defense against prostate cancer and gives you and your doctor more time to fight the disease before it has a chance to spread. But once cancer becomes a reality, there are some treatment options you can discuss with your doctor.

Here are some options to consider if the disease is caught in the early stages:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy – either external beam radiation or radioactive tumor seeding (brachytherapy)
  • Active surveillance, also known as expectant management or watchful waiting
  • Hormone therapy- usually reserved for older men too debilitated for active treatment and for treatment of men with more advanced disease.

Chemotherapy plays only a limited role in prostate cancer treatment. It’s reserved primarily for the treatment of men with advanced or recurrent prostate cancer that does not respond to hormone therapy.

For options for advanced stage prostate cancer diG here 



How many men are affected with prostate cancer in Jamaica?

A new study on prostate cancer among Caribbean men of African descent has revealed there was a 270 per cent increase in the disease among Jamaican men between 1983 and 2007.

The results of the study, which are published in a soon-to-be-released book by scientist Dr Henry Lowe, also showed there have been significant increases in the number of men in their 40s and 50s who have been diagnosed with the disease.

Jamaica has a high incidence of prostate cancer – 304 per 100,000.




Myth #1: Prostate cancer is caused by too much or too little sexual activity

Currently there is no conclusive evidence that links sexual activity either to the increased risk for prostate cancer or as a preventative measure.

Several studies have looked at men who have a high frequency of ejaculation (whether by sexual intercourse or masturbation) and concluded that they may have a slightly lower risk of developing prostate cancer. However, the difference appears to be small and this is certainly a theory that is difficult to study.


Myth #2: Eating too much ackee will cause prostate cancer

The basis for this myth is that studies have linked omega-6 fatty acids to increased prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels and since ackee is rich in omega-6, it suggests that excessive consumption of the fruit explains the very high rates of prostate cancer in Jamaica.

However, an analysis of ackee done in Mexico shows that less than 20 per cent of ackee is fat and that half of the fat portion of ackee is omega-6. However there are more glaring sources of fat in our diets such as vegetable oils (which is sometimes used to cook ackee) that have five times or more omega-6 than ackee.

Jamaica has a high incidence of prostate cancer – 304 per 100,000 – but so does the almost non-ackee eating black American male, which is 249 per 100,000.

Get a doctor’s prespective on ackee and prostate cancer, Does ackee really cause prostate cancer?


Myth #3: Big bellies are a sign of prosperity

In many eastern societies, including Africa, a man’s large, rotund belly is a sign of prosperity. However a study by a team of doctors led by Dr Maria Jackson, senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI), abdominal obesity may be associated with risk of high-grade prostate cancer.

The risk may be even greater in those with a larger abdomen relative to overall size.

diG here to read the full story Big bellies linked to prostate cancer

South Africa News: Pot bellies are symbols of prosperity


You’re going to put what where?!’ Fear of the digital rectal exam

Chairman of the Jamaica Cancer Society, Earl Jarrett, told The Gleaner that men are reluctant to do the screening tests although there are well-trained specialists available to do them. Their reluctance is strongly linked to widespread homophobia in the Jamaican society.

“Many men feel that by doing a simple digital rectal examination, it brings into question their own sexuality,” Mr. Jarrett said.

Some men attending the screening clinics say that they would prefer if the urologists were women and they are also concerned that if the prostate is found to be abnormal then, the treatment would interfere with their sex lives.

Two annual screening tests are recommended for all men aged 50 and over a prostate specific antigen test (PSA) and the digital rectal examination (DRE).

Read the full story Homophobic Men and Prostate Cancer



Whenever a natural substance was suggested for the treatment of a major illness like cancer, conventional medicine tended not to give it serious attention. That trend is now shifting. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has an annual conference where new cancer treatments are often introduced to doctors. In 2013, the ASCO programme included a report on a natural food pill that appears to offer significant benefit for prostate cancer.

A group of United Kingdom-based researchers identified four plant foods known to have anti-cancer properties – . They created a specific concentrated blend of these four cancer-fighting foods in a capsule to be taken by mouth twice daily. Then they tested its effect in the most stringent way known to science – a double blind, placebo controlled, randomised trial.

Changes in Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) are the most widely used indicators of the progression of prostate cancer. Recent research suggests that a rising PSA may not only suggest prostate cancer, but PSA may itself encourage prostate cancer cells to grow faster. The investigators, therefore, decided to study the effect of the ‘four foods pill’ on the PSA of 203 men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Half of the men were given the ‘four foods pill’, while the others were given a placebo for six months during which time their PSA levels were monitored.

The results were that the PSA of the placebo group increased 63.4 per cent more than the ‘four foods pill’ group and almost half of the men in the ‘four foods pill’ group had a stable or lower PSA after six months. All the four components of the pill – green tea, pomegranate, turmeric, and broccoli – have independently demonstrated protective benefits on the prostate gland. Let us examine each ingredient in this new prostate cancer-fighting food pill to see how they complement each other to lower the risk of prostate cancer progression. Each of these four foods works in different, but complementary, ways to modify how prostate cancer cells develop and grow. Using all four combined into one capsule offers a simple and safe tool in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer.

Read the full story Foods for Preventing Prostate Cancer.


Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be used as medical advice and persons with concerns about prostate cancer should seek the advice of a licensed medical professional


‘Prostate Cancer Health Centre’ WebMd. Accessed September 6, 2012

The American Cancer Society. Accessed September 6, 2012