PHEN Kicks off its 18th Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit

Speakers emphasize the need for self-advocacy, early detection screening, and eliminating the treatment disparity.

September is prostate cancer awareness month and PHEN kicked off its 18th Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit with its first of four sessions, “Understanding and Addressing the Impact of COVID-19 on the Prostate Cancer Racial Disparity.” The session was moderated by J. Jacques Carter, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School.

“We know that during the COVID pandemic, prostate cancer early detection screening and treatments were delayed, and it will be sometime before we have the full and complete picture of the overall impact, but we can’t wait to begin our recovery because lives are at stake,” said PHEN president and founder, Thomas A. Farrington. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic prostate cancer early detection screenings and treatments were delayed, and summit speakers came together to examine how Black patients were impacted compared to other patients as well as the challenges faced today in catching up while handling the dramatic increase in the number of new prostate cancer cases estimated by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The ACS estimated a 30% increase in new prostate cancer cases in 2021 and an additional 8% increase for 2022 for 268,490 new cases in 2022 alone. This is the largest increase of new cases for any of the four major cancers.

For the 18th year since the inception of the PHEN Summit, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D5-NY), gave opening Summit remarks. “It is all well documented that African American men are disproportionately impacted by prostate cancer in comparison than their white counterparts. We’ve talked about that for 18 years, and the lack of access to affordable healthcare is one of those key contributors to the disparity.”

“What’s important for everyone to recognize is that for four years, breast, lung and bronchus and colorectal cancers, the increase in new cases did not exceed four percent, but when you look at prostate cancer for all men in the United States there is a 54% increase. This is alarming,” said Keith Crawford, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Trials and Patient Education for PHEN.

Panelists and speakers consistently emphasized the need for Black men to advocate on behalf of their own healthcare, as well as calling on wives and families to bring men to their primary care doctor. “Patients need to get to their primary care doctor first. For vulnerable populations, you need to be advocates. Getting the family involved, for the women in their lives or loved ones, making sure that the patient makes it to their primary care doctor and follows through,” said Richard Lee, MD, PhD, Medical Oncologist, Massachusetts General Hospital.

Adrien Bernstein, MD, MS, Urologic Oncologist, Albany Medical College also showed findings that there was profound racial disparity in prostate cancer surgery rates, with a 97% reduction in the likelihood of surgery for black patients, relative to white patients during the pandemic.

“What is very clear as we look at the post COVID-19 pandemic is that institutional racism is still a feature of our healthcare system,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-5, NY).

Throughout prostate cancer awareness month PHEN is providing four exciting and in-depth sessions addressing some of today’s most important issues around the prostate cancer racial disparity.

Thomas Farrington Summit Introduction       

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