PHEN Summit Addresses Prostate Cancer in African American Men

The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) held their 8th Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit on September 20th -21st in Washington DC. PHEN along with several advocates headed to Capitol Hill with a goal of translating the sense of Senate through actions.

The summit was divided into two sessions. Doctors Jacques Carter, James Mohler, Patrick Walsh, and Harold Sox opened the summit session on Thursday with their assessment of the scientific evidence used by the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force to recommend against PSA screenings for black men, and men with a family history. The second session, moderated by Dr. Chiledum A. Ahaghotu, focused on moving beyond the PSA test controversy through the evolving impact of genomics and biomarkers.

Session IV was held at the Biotechnology Industry Organization where PHEN and biopharmaceutical organizations partnered in support of PHEN’s “Rally Against Prostate Cancer (RAP Cancer)” initiatives, and advocacy efforts towards accelerated development and access to new treatments. This session consisted of examining industry actions and how to address the prostate cancer disparity through new treatments and educational outreach. A brief overview was given on the treatment development process from the lab to the patient, and the importance of patient participation in clinical trials.  A key note discussed in the session was that location and education were critical in trial participation advocacy.

It was also discussed that several factors have lead to African American men being more prone to prostate cancer and death from the disease. There were as follows

  • Poorer access to care
  • Lower quality of care
  • Genetics
  • Biological factors (diet)
  • More aggressive (late detection)

The question as to why black men’s enrollment in clinical trials was at a record low arose several times. Responses included that black men believed they would be treated differently or “animal” like if they did. An advocate suggested that informing men that the trial was for educational purposes and not for experiments may in fact change these numbers and increase enrollment into these trials.  It is important for men of all socio-economic backgrounds especially black men, to participate in these trials to ensure what drugs work best for them.

Overall the PHEN summit was a great success, and informative to the attendees as expected. Many of the attendants had returned from previous years proving the good track record of the PHEN events.

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