Nearly 700 males, over the weekend, took advantage of the free prostate cancer screening organized by UsTOO at Pearce Plaza, Coral Road on Friday and Saturday.
Long before the screenings were due to begin, it was difficult to find a space to park in the area of the Prostate Cancer Screening Clinic on Coral Road, as men lined up and waited patiently to check their PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels.
Don Mitchell, Chairman of Prostate Cancer Screening UsTOO and Chair for Corporate Sponsors UsTOO Grand Bahama, acknowledged being impressed that an overwhelming number of male residents came out to take advantage of the free screenings.
Mitchell informed The Freeport News that each year since inception in 2011, the number of men coming to the clinic has been encouraging.
“In 2011 we had – 89 men, 2012 – 350 men, 2014 – 480 men, 2015 – 580 men, and by the looks of it this year we will have in excess of 700 men,” Mitchell said.
Recognizing the Public Hospital Authority (PHA), local medical facilities, Doctors, Nurses, corporate and individual sponsors, Mitchell stated that it is through them all and Urologist Dr. Robin Roberts that UsTOO is able to offer the free and extremely important service to the male residents of Grand Bahama.
Chairman Mitchell furthered that the UsTOO organization on Grand Bahama reached out, and placed flyers in almost every business establishment on the Island, spoke at churches, and service organizations, and tried to ensure that every male over the age of 40 was made aware of the importance of early screening to prevent what has become the leading cause of death in men in the country.
“We like to think that we together, are saving lives on Grand Bahama. In 2014, of the 480 men screened, we biopsied a number and 25 had prostate cancer. In 2015, 580 were screened and we biopsied 25 and 23 of those had positive results,” Mitchell added.
Mitchell explained that each of the men whose results raise a red flag are brought to Dr. Roberts at Sunrise Medical Centre a month later, and with their families and spouse are told of the available treatments and surgeries. Mitchell also said that this first visit is free and if a procedure is to take place the UsTOO group tries to assist.
“Last year Dr. Roberts along with a colleague from George Hopkins, Baltimore, Maryland, undertook two prostate surgeries at the Rand Memorial Hospital at no cost to the patient,” Mitchell acknowledged, adding that “in the future it is hoped that the doctors will be able to perform six surgeries on Grand Bahama at no cost for those with aggressive prostate cancer who otherwise could not afford surgery.”
As an eight-year Prostate Cancer survivor himself, Mitchell attributes early detection as the reason he is alive today.
Dr. Roberts also took time out of his extremely hectic day to speak to The Freeport News on the free clinic arranged by UsTOO Grand Bahama:.
“Prostate Cancer is the most common cause of death in males in The Bahamas. Every week in The Bahamas there are two new cases, and every two weeks on average in The Bahamas a man dies of Prostate Cancer.”
The Urologist stated firmly that the biggest concern regarding this particular cancer is that the most common symptom is no symptom at all.
“When a patient has symptoms it is often too late, hence the challenge is to catch it at an early stage,” Dr. Roberts insisted.
Comparing the testing in women for Cervical Cancer with a pap smear and how that cancer is now a preventable disease, Dr. Roberts stated that men need to understand the simple tests for Prostate Cancer can mean a decrease in the country’s cases of that disease.
Dr. Roberts acknowledged that men feel that the Digital Rectal exam is not only uncomfortable, “but also has overtones when thinking about someone putting a finger in your back passage, and it is for this reason men do not get regular examinations for Prostate Cancer as women would for Cervical Cancer.”
However, the noted expert in the field of male reproductive organs said he is encouraged by the number of men who are realizing the potential dangers of not having a PSA test and are coming to the free clinics set up for their benefit.
“Black men in general are not going to the doctor for a check-up (of the mindset) that ‘real’ men don’t get sick. But, they are concerned about their sexual performance, so are now coming in to check their prostate, and once they get their foot in the door we check for diabetes and high cholesterol,” Dr. Roberts informed.
Several of the men that came to the free clinic shared their reasons with The Freeport News.
Local resident Andrew Sweeting stated that it is important that everyone monitors health.
“Men seem reluctant as they don’t want to go through the process, but it is no big deal.”
Sweeting added that everything is in one place – cholesterol and blood pressure testing as well as the prostate test.
“There are still some men hiding at home but I seriously suggest they need to come out next time and take advantage before it is too late,” Sweeting warned.
Bishop Leslie Woodside confirmed he had tested positive several years ago, and although scheduled for prostate surgery, was unable to go through with it because of complications in his blood.
“I always take the opportunity to get screened so I can see what state my prostate is in now. Some develop slowly, others more aggressively. It is a life threatening disease and you just don’t know unless you get screened,” Woodside said.
Nicholas Hield admitted that his mother was the one who encouraged him to come out to Friday’s screening although at Pride of Grand Bahama Lodge they had been encouraged to go to the screenings as well.
“I had wanted to come out last year but work got in the way. It was kind of crazy in here at first but the process was quick and painless. I am very appreciative as a private doctor would have charged me hundreds of dollars and I only had to donate $10. Once you know early, your family can help you through it,” said Hield, sounding very satisfied with the concept of free screening.
Published Monday, September 12, 2016