Examination of Witnesses (Questions 557
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE 2000
557. I now call Mr Isaac Dweben and Dr Nicky
Thomas representing Cancer Black Care.
(Mr Dweben) My name is Isaac Dweben,
founder of Cancer Black Care. I am here to speak on behalf of
Mr Frank Chinegwundoh who cannot be here with us today. I shall
read from his statement. I apologise for not appearing in person
before you. I am at the British Association of Urologists' annual
meeting in Birmingham. I have asked Isaac Dweben, Chief Executive
of Cancer Black Care to deliver my address. Cancer Black Care
aims to address the cultural and emotional needs of people affected
by cancer as well as their carers, families and friends. We intend
to achieve this by leading and influencing educational programmes
relating to cancer prevention, treatment and palliative care and
through discussion, debate and advocacy in relation to issues
concerned with quality of life of those undergoing or contemplating
treatment. By doing so, we hope to reduce the stigma and fear
often associated with cancer. Unpublished research done by Dr
Chinegwundoh at Barts reveals that there is a high incidence of
prostate cancer in black men. Research evidence by Professor Irene
Higginson called "Care in their last year of lifeA
comparison of the experience of the first generation black Caribbean
community in UK with the local white population in Lambeth, Southwark
and Lewisham" reveals that black cancer patients do not receive
fair and equal treatment. Dr Chinegwundoh is concerned about the
difficulty in getting funding for research into prostate cancer
and in particular the link between race and prostate cancer. I
speak in my capacity as a NHS consultant, a senior lecturer with
a higher research degree and as chairperson of Cancer Black Care.
I and others have put forward proposals over the last four years
all of which have not been funded. For example: in 1996 two submissions
to Veena Bahl of the Department of Health on awareness of prostate
disorders in African-Caribbean men. Not funded. In 1997 the impact
of screening for prostate cancer in East London, submitted to
the NHS Executive North Thames Research and Development, a bid
to improve the health among black people. Not funded. In 1998,
beliefs and attitudes of African-Caribbean men relating to prostate
cancer. Bid submitted to the National Lotteries Charities Board,
Health and Social Research Programme theme. Not funded. In 1998
the 5-alpha reductase gene and its relationship to prostate cancer
was also submitted to The Royal College of Surgeons of England.
Not funded. In 1999 prostate cancer amongst African-Caribbean
men in the UK, a comparative study of incidence, clinical presentation
and access to health care was submitted to the National Health
Service Executive South West was also not funded. The research
was based on a multicentre approach across London and Bristol.
All the above applications involved at least one academic institution
with good research records. The last application involved urologists
from across London and also Bristol and also people elsewhere.
We are bound by our interest in the ethnic differences in prostate
cancer. A tremendous amount of time goes into these applications.
With one exception, there was no feedback. I feel that proper
feedback is the least that the awarding body can do. "We
are sorry that there were so many applications for limited funds
and you were unsuccessful" is wholly inadequate. It would
appear that without a "proven track record" and publication
in the area of interest, funding will not be forthcoming. Yet
how does one acquire a track record without funding? It is difficult
not to draw the conclusions that funding committees fund those
whom they know and secondly that prostate cancer is not a "sexy"
subject for funding and adding an ethnic dimension to prostate
cancer ... well I will leave it at that. We propose that the Committee
should fund some themes of research in cancer care amongst the
black people and that Cancer Black Care should play a leading
role in these research drives. Thank you.
Chairman: Thank you very much and thank you
for being so brief. We can ask you a question.
558. Would you be kind enough to tell me whether
your organisation has ever received funding for any research?
(Mr Dweben) No, there is no research, as you can see.
We have done two or three proposals but no, we have not received
funding at all.
559. We were told by the Minister that £1
million had been put towards prostate cancer research over the
last few months. Are you aware of that and could you bid for that?
(Mr Dweben) Yes, we are aware of that but we are not
sure if we bid that we shall be successful, because of the fact
that we have never received funding. Even though prostate cancer
is high among black people, we have not been successful at all.
We shall be interested to bid for funding for research.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. We should
love to go on longer but you realise we cannot because the five
minutes are up. Thank you very much indeed and thank you Dr Thomas.