New campaign raising awareness of prostate cancer in black communities launches

Dr. Obrey Alexis of Oxford Brookes University is leading a Basingstoke-based initiative highlighting how black men of African and Caribbean heritage are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer.

In the United Kingdom, prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men after lung cancer.

Approximately 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year and there are currently 250,000 men who are living with the disease across the country.

However, many are unaware that black men in the UK are more likely to get prostate cancer than their white UK counterparts. 

Evidence suggests that 1 in 4 black men compared to 1 in 8 white men are likely to be diagnosed with the disease. This has prompted a new initiative led by Dr Obrey Alexis, Reader in Adult Nursing (Acute Hospital Care) at Oxford Brookes University. Dr Alexis will be leading a project, focussed on black communities living in Basingstoke, in an effort to both raise awareness of this trend and to find out more about the levels of understanding about the disease within this particular demographic. 

Following a recent Q&A session held by Dr Alexis at The Malls Shopping Centre, Basingstoke, alongside Oxford Brookes colleague Dr William Garbrah, he is now planning a series of events and workshops over the course of the year to collect information from the local community. Having analysed the findings, he hopes that this model can be used elsewhere, with the aim of establishing why this group is twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

His next session will be at the same Basingstoke location between 11am and 3pm on 30 April.

Dr Alexis says: “Prostate cancer is a major concern in African and Caribbean men. It is well documented that black men of African and Caribbean heritage are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer.

“Black men are also two to three times more likely to die from the disease than their white counterparts. Possible explanations for such differences include demographic characteristics, socioeconomic status and racial differences in genetic biology which may be attributable to differences in dietary intake.

“My project will seek to raise awareness of prostate cancer in black communities, specifically reaching out to black men and their families in the Basingstoke area.”

The project is funded by Wessex Cancer Alliance through the Communities Against Cancer programme run by Action Hampshire. There are around 3,500 individuals in Basingstoke who are of African, Caribbean or mixed-race heritage.

Dr Alexis hopes to find out what participants find helpful from awareness and engagement sessions taking place over coming months, to understand if the information has been useful in helping them to change their health seeking behaviours, for example encouraging regular screening, and to understand black men’s perceptions of prostate cancer. Nicola Duffield, Programme Manager at Wessex Cancer Alliance which is helping to fund Dr Alexis’ project added: “We will be keen to see the outcomes of this initiative, it will hopefully raise awareness within this particular demographic at a local level. There is still a lot of work to do with black men of African and Caribbean heritage to help them and their GPs to be aware of the heightened risk of prostate cancer and to be especially vigilant about signs and symptoms.”

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