Prostate Cancer UK is convening an urgent summit to tackle life-and-death questions about why men of African and African Caribbean descent in the UK are a shocking three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men of the same age.
Called ‘Partnering for Progress’, the summit on 24th June 2013 brings together experts and leaders from the UK’s African and African Caribbean communities.
The first event of its kind in the UK, the summit at the Oval Cricket Ground is being hosted by Prostate Cancer UK to create an influential new taskforce whose joint working has the expertise and authority to lift the issue of prostate cancer in black British men higher up the nation’s health agenda.
In the week of the 65th Anniversary of the Windrush, the summit aims to address a major but unpublicised health inequality affecting the black Caribbean population within Britain’s multiculture.
African and African Caribbean men in the UK are not only 300% more likely to develop the potentially-fatal disease, but they seem prone to get it younger, and have a higher death rate. Many of them are also less likely to receive health awareness messages or seek the life-saving checks and treatments which could catch it in time.
It is still not clear why the raised risk exists for black British men and Prostate Cancer UK is leading the drive towards the more targeted research and in-community health education that could improve survival rates within these groups.
Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Due to decades of underfunding and the failure of successive governments to prioritise work on prostate cancer, far too little is known about why our country’s African and African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than their white counterparts. This is unacceptable neglect and cannot continue unchallenged.
“Urgent action is required and that’s why Prostate Cancer UK is bringing together the key players who can help set priorities to shape better future care. It’s an ambitious plan for change but we want the best diagnosis, treatment and support for all men with prostate cancer, whatever their background.”
Mr. Sharp said Prostate Cancer UK was “committed to tackling the disease on all fronts, whether by funding research, by leading change through campaigning and creating conversations, or just by co-operating with others to get the job done.”
He added that their vision is for all African and African Caribbean men to be aware of the risk and for those with the disease to have access to the best possible care and support.
“Whilst Prostate Cancer UK itself invests heavily in research to help find answers and support men and their families across the community, we’re acutely aware that much more needs to be done nationally to get prostate cancer research up the agenda and crack the disease once and for all”, Mr. Sharp said.
The summit comes a fortnight after the African-born Archbishop of York announced that he had received surgery for locally-advanced prostate cancer. It highlights the need to ensure every man, especially in higher risk groups, has access to early diagnosis and early treatment for the disease which kills 10,000 men in the UK every year.
“As one of the most prominent black figures in British public life, the archbishop’s experience reminds us of the urgent need to raise awareness of this disease among African and African Caribbean people at every level. We need to get health messages to all men. It means working with health authorities and key representatives from the community and the summit is a vital step toward a unified response,” said Mr. Sharp.
Footballer-turned-broadcaster Mark Bright – “Brighty”, a celebrity champion of Prostate Cancer UK, will meet delegates at a reception after the day’s conference and encourage the community leaders to work closely with Prostate Cancer UK in reaching and engaging at-risk men.
"I started supporting Prostate Cancer UK several years ago after seeing the statistics about the risk for African Caribbean men. I was absolutely shocked. And in the time I've been working with the charity the statistics for all men have got worse. As a footballer you rely on your health more than anything else and I've always been fit. But, like most men, I wasn't that good at talking about health problems. Football attracts men from all walks of life, men that we want to talk to.”
Mr. Bright said that after learning the risks, he thinks it is his duty to spread the word. “Without talking, too many men remain in ignorance, and with this disease, ignorance kills," he said.
If you have concerns about prostate cancer, call Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 free to landlines from 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday and from 7 – 9pm on Wednesdays. Alternatively please visit www.prostatecanceruk.org