A prostate cancer support group has been set up specifically for black men – one in four of whom will get the disease.
This makes it twice as common as in the general population. Guy’s Cancer and South East London Cancer Alliance created Brother to Brother, Man to Man for black men after not seeing many in existing support groups.
Jonah Rusere, a nurse practitioner at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in this area, said: ‘When we started to wonder why, the feedback we got from our black patients was about the importance of being able to talk to patients from communities similar crossing similar communities. experiences.”
Subway driver Brian Quavar, 59, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2021 and joined the group after being told about it by Jonah. He said: “Men can usually be embarrassed to go to their doctor about it, but it’s even more taboo among black men. You will hear some say that what they don’t know can’t hurt them.
“There is also this notion that black men are supposed to be manly in terms of sexuality. They think it’s something they have to stick to and any interference with it will affect their performance. So to be able to have a group of black men talking honestly about the experience and how it affected them and the issues they face is enlightening.
“The group is a place where black men can feel comfortable sharing and talking openly about their experiences in a way that is respectful and supportive of one another. You find out what to expect as there are people at different stages of their recovery. I can share my experience and be a support and inspiration to other men who are just beginning their journey.
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Black men may also be more likely to get prostate cancer if their father or brother had it.
Amelia Barber, clinical nurse specialist in prostate cancer at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: ‘It’s not uncommon for a black man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and not tell his family because the stigma is so great. But if you don’t tell your son, who will be at increased risk for prostate cancer, he won’t be able to start testing to detect it sooner.
“So a lot of the guys in the group are really keen on raising awareness and are very bravely starting to talk about this stuff at their community centers, barbershops and with family members.”
The prostate is a small gland located between the penis and the bladder. The first test for prostate cancer is a simple blood test called a PSA test. A digital rectal examination will only follow if necessary.
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A father of four, Brian also raises awareness about prostate cancer outside of the group. He said: “Whenever I speak with other black men, I mention it. I say ‘when was the last time you had a PSA test?’ If they haven’t had one, I encourage them to get one.
“Many people still believe that the first or only screening test for prostate cancer is a digital rectal exam, which many men are reluctant to undergo. So I tell them that the PSA test is just a blood test and that the digital rectal exam will only follow if necessary.
You can check your risk with Prostate Cancer UK online risk checker. If you are a black male over the age of 45, it is recommended that you talk to your GP about your risk for prostate cancer, even if you have no symptoms.