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Nurse-led prostate cancer group for black men is tackling taboo

Staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ trust want to combat stigma of the disease in black communities and reduce health inequalities in a group that is at elevated risk
Man who has prostate cancer sits talking to nurse

Staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ trust want to combat stigma of the disease in black communities and reduce health inequalities in a group that is at elevated risk

Nurses at a London trust are leading a support group for black men diagnosed with prostate cancer to help combat their increased risk .

The Brother to Brother, Man to Man group was set up at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to improve care for black men after research suggested they were less likely to receive the level of care other men experience. The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey found that while experience of care is generally positive, black patients have a poorer experience across a number of areas, including support

Staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ trust want to combat stigma of the disease in black communities and reduce health inequalities in a group that is at elevated risk

Man who has prostate cancer sits talking to nurse
Picture: iStock

Nurses at a London trust are leading a support group for black men diagnosed with prostate cancer to help combat their increased risk.

The Brother to Brother, Man to Man group was set up at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust to improve care for black men after research suggested they were less likely to receive the level of care other men experience. The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey found that while experience of care is generally positive, black patients have a poorer experience across a number of areas, including support received following diagnosis.

‘A lot of the prostate cancer patients we see are black men, but we weren’t seeing them in any of our existing support groups,’ said Guy’s and St Thomas’ urology advanced nurse practitioner Jonah Rusere.

‘It’s not uncommon for a black man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and not tell his family because the stigma is so great’

Amelia Barber, prostate cancer clinical nurse specialist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

‘When we started asking why, the feedback we got from our black patients was about the importance of being able to talk to patients from similar communities going though similar experiences.’

Urological cancer referrals at all-time high

Urgent referrals for urological cancers reached an all-time high in March this year, with almost 25,000 people checked in just one month, following a campaign launched by the NHS and Prostate Cancer UK in February.

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer but it’s even more common in black men with one in four developing the disease.

‘To be able to have a group of black men speaking honestly about the experience and how it’s affected them is enlightening’

Brian Quavar, who has a prostate cancer diagnosis

Prostate cancer clinical nurse specialist at the trust Amelia Barber added: ‘It’s not uncommon for a black man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and not tell his family because the stigma is so great.

‘So a lot of the guys in the group are really keen on awareness-raising and are very courageously starting to talk about this kind of stuff in their community centres, barber shops and with family members.’

Prostate cancer group is breaking the taboo

The monthly group, funded by the South East London Cancer Alliance (SELCA), began in September 2021 and has hosted talks from specialists about subjects including erectile function and sex and intimacy in the context of prostate cancer.

Brian Quavar, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2021, said: ‘Men generally might be embarrassed to go to their doctor about this but it is even more of a taboo among black men. You will hear some say that what they don’t know can’t hurt them. So to be able to have a group of black men speaking honestly about the experience and how it’s affected them and the issues they face is enlightening.’


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