Health, Medicine, Mental Health

African-American Prostate Cancer Summit

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Conference will discuss how recommended changes in treatment affect black men

Thomas Farrington
Thomas A. Farrington

By Frederick H. Lowe

The Prostate Health Education Network will host its 11th Annual African-American Prostate Cancer Summit next month amid concerns that it must have a role in reviewing changes to prostate cancer healthcare policies since the disease is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among black men.

The overall conference is titled “African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit,” and this year’s conference theme is “Black Americas’s Prostate Cancer Burden, A National Review.”

The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN), which is based in Quincy, Massachusetts, will meet September 17th and 18th at two Washington, D.C., locations.

The session on September 17 will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hotel Monaco. At the Hotel Monaco, PHEN will hold a panel discussion to raise the level of awareness about prostate cancer in the African-American community.

Panelists will also outline a national consensus strategy towards eliminating the prostate cancer burden. The panelists also will focus on topics of primary importance in addressing the burden. And they will review changes to key prostate healthcare policies and practices.

On September 18, the conference will move to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and will meet in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which also is holding its 45th Annual Legislative Conference there.  The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is the non-profit arm of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The prostate cancer meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to noon. Thomas A. Farrington, president and founder of PHEN and a 15-year prostate cancer survivor, said the meeting at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation will focus on public outreach in addition to releasing PHEN’s findings. Both meetings are free and open to the public.

“This issue is critical and timely,” Farrington said. “September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and the fight against prostate cancer is at a crossroads.”

PHEN played a key role in passing U.S. Senate Resolution 529 in July 2012 that recognized prostate cancer was a health crisis among black men.

Farrington noted that two months earlier the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force against PSA recommended not using the PSA test on healthy men because it said the service has no benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.” The task force recommended other methods of detection, such as digital rectal examinations or ultraonography.

The PSA, or  prostate-specific antigen, measures the level of PSA in the blood. It is the most-common way currently being used to detect prostate cancer. The prostate gland produces PSA, a protein that at an elevated level may be a sign of prostate cancer.

“These changes have created an urgent need for a national review of the prostate cancer crisis in Black America towards developing a focused consensus strategy for its elimination,” Farrington said.  He urged black men to tell their general practitioners they want a PSA test.

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of  new cancer cases among African-American men, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2013-2014. In 2013, there were 35,430 reported cases of prostate cancer, followed by lung and bronchus and colorectal cancers in black men.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among black men behind lung and bronchus cancer, the American Cancer Society reported. The disease is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, there are cases of aggressive prostate cancers.

After both events, PHEN will publish a “National Consensus Agenda,” towards eliminating the African-American Prostate Cancer crisis, based on summit presentations. PHEN also will webcast the meetings. The organization’s website is


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