Hispanic men urged to get prostate exams

Boston Globe

Hispanic men urged to get prostate exams

By Aneri Pattani GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  SEPTEMBER 21, 2015

Local doctors and advocates spoke with about 1,000 parishioners Sunday at the Congregación León de Judá in the South End about the high risk of death from prostate cancer for Hispanic men in Boston.

The event, which was organized by AdMeTech, a Boston-based nonprofit that focuses on the advancement of prostate cancer care, aimed to increase awareness about screening and the high death toll from prostate cancer in the Hispanic community.

In Boston, prostate cancer mortality for Hispanic men is 40 percent higher than the state average, said Dr. Faina Shtern, president and chief executive of AdMeTech. “This is particularly troubling because prostate cancer is curable if detected early.”

One possible reason for this disparity is a reluctance among Hispanic men to get screened.

Roberto Miranda, senior pastor of the church, said cultural factors might make Hispanic men hesitant to seek care. Many people in the community also see medical care as a contradiction to their faith, he added.

“Often people of faith are hesitant to pursue medical care because they feel it is a breach of their trust in God,” he said. “but hopefully we address that [through this event.] Faith and medical care are not antithetical. They are complementary.”

Through one-on-one counseling sessions and educational workshops, doctors tried to convey the importance of screening to men and their families.

Shtern said many men seemed receptive to the idea of getting a blood test rather than submitting to a physical exam.

The exam represents “a major psychological and cultural barrier in the Hispanic community,” she said.

While a blood test is a good first step, Dr. Adam Feldman, a urologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who was at the event, said he encouraged men to get a physical exam as well.

“While it may be awkward to have an exam, it’s important,” he said. “Screening for prostate cancer is a combination of a blood test and a digital rectal exam. It’s not just one or the other, but both together.”

After seeing the parishioners’ interest in the event, Miranda said he hopes to continue bringing medical education to the community.

“Seeing how thirsty people are for information on issues regarding health, I’m realizing we need to do more of this,” he said.

Aneri Pattani can be reached at aneri.pattani@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @apattani95.