On September 2 at McCoy Stadium, a baseball game and barbecue may have been the draw, but prostate cancer awareness was the prize. It was the 8th annual Pawsox and Prostates event, organized by the Rhode Island Cancer Council, a community action program based in Pawtucket, RI.
by Reza Corinne Clifton
PAWTUCKET, RI – September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and Urban Health Watch is here to participate. Why?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is second to skin cancer as the most common type of cancer found in American men, and it follows only lung cancer as the leading cause of death in men. A report by the Rhode Island Cancer Registry listed prostate cancer among the top five cancers diagnosed in 2008 and among the top five causes of deaths attributable to cancer.
And African Americans, take note: the same “Cancer Surveillance Report” on “Rhode Island’s Cancer Burden” noted that incidences of prostate cancer have been “higher among African American men than white men in [RI],” with deaths resulting from it “much higher.”
But prostate cancer can be curable or treatable, and, according to ACS, the death rate is going down and the disease is being found earlier.”
“Like any other cancer,” says Jackie Metzger, “the earlier you find the disease” the better it is for treatment; the later you find it, “the more difficult” it is to cure. Metzger, a volunteer from Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, was assisting at Pawsox and Prostates, the 8th annual event organized by the Rhode Island Cancer Council. The program, which this year happened on September 2, provides registered attendees with free medical screenings and presentations on prostate cancer as well as a ticket to a Pawsox baseball game and special barbecue at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.
Phlebotomists from Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island administered blood tests to screen for prostate cancer prior to the start of a Pawsox vs Rochester Red Wings baseball game. They were joined by event organizers from the Rhode Island Cancer Council, urologists, oncologists, and other volunteers from Memorial, and other members of the Pawtucket medical community.
“I get a kick out of drawing blood at a ballgame,” said Metzger, who joined urologists, phlebotomists, and other colleagues from Memorial Hospital who were on-site to give blood tests, answer questions, and collect patient information. “Community events are good. They’re educational, and they get the community thinking.” And it works, she observed. “Every year, we get 2-3 positive results.”
Those who test positive will either be contacted by the physician they indicated on the day of the ballgame, or they will be contacted by Dr. Anthony Thomas, says Maureen DiPiero, program manager at RI Cancer Council. “Dr. Thomas,” she explains is the head of the Cancer Center at at Memorial Hospital, and an important collaborator with the council.
“If your results are elevated,” and if a person has not listed a primary care doctor, says DiPiero, Dr. Thomas will contact him “to schedule a free visit” to consult about a second screening – the digital rectal exam.
About 50 people stayed on-hand for presentations by the physicians and specialists – and it wasn’t just men. Lily, Diane, and Sophie, three sisters from Pawtucket, all brought men to the event who, they say, may not have necessarily come on their own. RI Cancer Council advises wives and other women to lead loved ones to the tests since men are less likely than women to go for routine checkups.
Like most guidelines, the doctor-volunteers at the Pawsox game recommended and reminded the audience – men, women, and children – that 50 is the age to begin starting annual prostate screenings. For African American men and/or those with a history of prostate cancer in the family, 45 or even 40 is suggested as the first year to start annual exams.
“With breast cancer,” says Metzger, “at least women are getting the message to check themselves. With men and prostate cancer, the way to check is by getting blood tests and digital rectal exams once a year.”
To learn about other FREE prostate cancer screenings happening in Rhode Island, click here to read another post about it on UrbanHealthWatch.net.
For more information about cancer in Rhode Island, visit the Rhode Island Cancer Council website at http://www.ricancercouncil.org, or click here to download the “Cancer Surveillance Report” on “Rhode Island’s Cancer Burden.” For national facts and resources about prostate cancer, and other types of cancer, visit http://www.cancer.org.