As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s appropriate to focus on recent developments in understanding why black men in the UK bear twice the burden of prostate cancer as white men – 1 in 4 versus 1 in 8.
Earlier this month, Jonathan Oloyede, leader of City Chapel in east London, joined OnFocus to discuss the challenges that men in his community face regarding their health and how he is playing a key role in supporting them. He emphasised the theoretically simple but practically complex role of raising awareness: “There’s not much awareness that is being made available and money being spent equally sometimes on what I would call a black man’s issue with prostate cancer compared to something like breast cancer or cervical cancer.”
He has specific suggestions for improving this: “I think this kind of information should be available at every clinic. It should be screaming at men. They tell us that men find it difficult to go to the clinic or go and see the doctor, it’s known. And so if there’s a reluctance, there should be more effort being made to reach these men. There should be posters. There should be adverts. There should be more effort made by government and made, by the NHS to reaching black men in particular with regards to prostate cancer, because like you rightly said, one in four men will get prostate cancer. And if that is a known stat and I don’t see any reason why much more is not being done to reach us as black men.
”Prostate Cancer UK is rising to the challenge on raising awareness in the black community with a media campaign and first UK prostate cancer clinical trial focusing on black men. This video is particularly moving and will hopefully be shared amongst communities like Jonathan’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1AsqKS6g30
This week the charity announced the “first-of-its-kind study in the UK …aiming to solve the mystery of why black men develop prostate cancer at twice the rate of other men in the UK.”
The PROFILE study will look at the genes of men of African and Caribbean descent to see if they can learn to predict prostate cancer risk, and find better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease. The study is currently open to men aged 40-69, who are of African or Caribbean descent and haven’t previously had prostate cancer. It will continue to recruit men until 1 June 2021.
Communities like Jonathan’s will be key to recruitment, and Jonathan is keen to work in partnership with organisations like Prostate Cancer UK. “If we have organisations that want to engage with the black community and with churches, I definitely would love to get in touch with them. Or if they say they want to form a kind of informal partnership. I will introduce them to many churches. And if they if they have the right attitude and the right personnel to connect with the black community, we would love, I would really, really love to do that very open to do that.”