HEALTH MINISTRY SUPPORTS PROSTATE CANCER PROJECTS

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The local effort to sensitise and educate the public about prostate cancer is receiving another boost.

Funds are expected to pour into prostate cancer education and the early detection of this disease among men, through a project now on at the Barbados Cancer Society (BCS). The exercise, dubbed Barbados Cycles for Charity, will see four cyclists setting out next month to raise money for the BCS’ Prostate Cancer Programme by undertaking the gruelling French Alps 2000 kilometres and the 120,000 feet climb by bike, in 15 consecutive days from July 5 to 19.

The team, including Gregory Austin, Sean King, Monica Weekes and Larry Rogers, is driven by family or personal experiences with cancer, as well as the bid to fight prostate cancer on the island. Barbadians and visitors are urged to pledge as many kilometres as possible, at a cost of $10 per kilometre.

According to Honorary Secretary of the BSC, Dr. Dorothy Cooke-Johnson, the Society is concerned that some 30,000 men in the 45 – 80 plus age group are at risk for the disease and it would utilise the funds from the cycling expedition to “devise an improved pathway to promote early detection, prompt treatment, social support and appropriate counselling”.

Last month, the Barbados National Cancer Study (BNCS), which is now focusing on prostate cancer, was awarded a research grant by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health of the United States of America.

Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Springer, in addressing a recent Cancer Society press conference, acknowledged that the funding “will allow a continuation of research into the incidence and risk for prostate cancer for another four years”. She revealed that “cancer was the third leading cause of death in Barbados after cardiovascular diseases and diabetes”.

She said: “Among cancers, prostate cancer was the main cause of death among Barbadian men, with approximately 150 newly diagnosed cases annually.  The International Agency for Research in Cancer estimates that prostate cancer is responsible for one third of cancer cases in Barbadian men.”

The Ministry of Health is one of the strategic partners of the BNCS, launched in 2002 to evaluate environmental and familial factors related to prostate and breast cancer risk. The breast cancer component of the study concluded in April 2007.

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