Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with one in nine being diagnosed during his lifetime.
Regionally speaking, a recent study by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rates of death from cervical, breast, prostate, and colon cancer are 2 – 9 times higher in the Caribbean than in the United States and that prostate cancer accounted for 18 percent – 47 percent of cancer deaths.
One man who puts a face to the disease in the Cayman Islands is Milton Williams who was diagnosed in February 2017 when he was 45 years old.
“I went for a routine prostate check in Jamaica,” he explains. “The doctor found a lump and sent me for an ultrasound where they saw something they didn’t like.”
Upon return to Cayman, Milton underwent a biopsy with Dr. Mohanty and within weeks was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and started treatment.
Symptoms of prostate cancer may include blood in your urine, erectile dysfunction, back, hip or chest pain, frequent urination and/or swelling or weakness of the legs. However, in many people there may be no, or few, symptoms in its early stages, and this was true for Milton.
“In hindsight my urine wasn’t flowing as freely as when I was younger,” he says. “But I had had previous problems with kidney stones so assumed it was something to do with that.”
Treatment began with Zoladex injections and Androcur tablets which brought the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein created by the prostate and of which elevated levels can signal prostate cancer, to a lower level.
“The next options were to remove the prostate, which my doctor did not advise due to my age, or to begin radiation,” explains Milton, who chose the later and began 40 doses over eight weeks in Jamaica. His treatment finished in November 2017.
After nearly a year of thinking he was in remission, the PSA numbers have started to increase again so Milton is back on injections and tablets but is 100 percent confident he will overcome the illness or live peacefully with it.
Aside from continuing to fight the cancer, Milton’s life has changed since his diagnosis. His religious beliefs have deepened, and he is also now more conscious of what he consumes.
Milton says he feels no pain, and nothing out of the ordinary, which proves that you cannot always rely on symptoms to warn you of illness. Preventative health screenings are essential in allowing people to stay on top of their health and catch any issues early on.
“I’d advise men to go for checks as early as possible and follow all your doctor’s instructions,” he says. “This is something that can be taken care of with treatment in many cases, if caught early.”