September 14, 2012
By: Thomas A. Farrington, PHEN Founder and President
As a 12-year prostate cancer survivor who lost my father and both grandfathers to this disease, I have made it my personal mission to increase awareness and understanding of this insidious disease among the African American community. When I was first diagnosed, like most men, I was totally uninformed and unprepared for what I was about to face. Since then, I have immersed myself in learning all I can about prostate cancer and the unique challenges we face as black men. In 2003, I founded the Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) to focus on our unmet and urgent needs.
These are some things that you need to understand:
· Prostate cancer discriminates. African Americans are 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer and 150% more likely to die from it than any other racial or ethnic group nationwide.
· The United States Senate passed a resolution on July 26th, 2012 recognizing the occurrence of prostate cancer among African American men to be of epidemic proportions. This resolution was sponsored by Senator John Kerry (MA), a prostate cancer survivor, and it was co-sponsored by five other senators who are also survivors.
· President Barack Obama issued a proclamation designating September 2012 as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in which was stated, “Prostate cancer is especially prevalent among African American men, who experience both the highest incidence and the highest mortality rates of prostate cancer.”
On September 20th and 21st, in the nation’s capital, PHEN is hosting its “Eight Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit” where we bring leaders together from around the country with the goal of developing new strategies for eliminating the prostate cancer racial disparity.
An expert panel has been assembled for our first session to be held in the Russell Senate Building, entitled: “Why the U. S. Preventive Services Task force (USPSTF) Recommendation against early detection PSA testing should not apply to African Americans and Men with a Family History of Prostate Cancer.”
The USPSTF recommendation against PSA screening was driven by scientific evidence from randomized controlled clinical trials designed specifically for PSA screening. According to the USPSTF these trials did not include a statistically significant number of black men. The USPSTF then resorted to using “preliminary” data from a non-PSA screening trial in order to include the men most at risk for prostate cancer within its recommendation. Our expert panel will examine the clinical trial used in this double standard and the scientific evidence resulting from it.
Our second session, also at the Russell Senate Building, will focus on “Moving beyond the PSA Test Controversy through the Evolving Impact of Genomics and Biomarkers.” Some of the exciting developments in this area will be presented by the leading organizations responsible for them.
PHEN has developed nationwide education and awareness outreach initiatives in partnership with faith-based organizations. The third summit session will be hosted at New Samaritan Baptist Church to focus on strategies for expanding and strengthening these important community action initiatives.
Many of the leading biopharmaceutical companies that are developing new prostate cancer treatments also partner with PHEN in our education and outreach efforts. On Friday, September 21st the summit will move to the Biotechnology Industry Organization headquarters to focus on increased industry actions to address the prostate cancer disparity.
We are very encouraged with the new prostate cancer treatments which are extending survival with less debilitating side effects than at the time when I was diagnosed in 2000. Beginning with the FDA approval of Provenge in 2010, a revolutionary immunotherapy treatment, and through the approval of Enzalutamide just a few days ago, these are exciting and transformative times. I believe that prostate cancer patients can look forward to much brighter days ahead.
PHEN’s focus is to make certain that the critical needs of the men most at risk for being diagnosed with, and dying from prostate cancer are addressed during these times of rapid change, and that our days ahead are also sunny. We desperately want to eliminate the darkness of suffering the largest racial mortality disparity for any type of major cancer. Our needs cannot and should not be ignored, nor can we take a step backwards on any issue. This is why the PSA test issue for us is so critical and why the use of a double standard is unacceptable now and in the future.
PHEN’s summit is open and free to the public. For detail summit information for schedules and venues, and to register to attend visit: www.rapcancer.org
For more information contact: