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Urban League President Urges Screening

            President of the Los Angeles Urban League and prostate cancer survivor John Mack knows the benefits of being diagnosed with cancer early.  It saved his life.  That’s why he chose to volunteer for the American Cancer Society and help inform his community about prostate cancer.  As a well-respected African American public figure, Mack wants to save lives. 

            His dedication to combating cancer was recently underscored when several friends were motivated to get screened after hearing his public service announcements.  When some were diagnosed with the disease, Mack knew his volunteer efforts were serving their intended purpose; to urge men to take a serious look at their personal health.

            “That made me realize how important it is for men to understand this disease and how early detection means a life saved,” Mack said. “If even one life is saved because of what I’m doing, then it’s all worth it.”

            Second only to lung cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among males in the United States, African-American men are 70 percent more likely to develop the disease than white males.  Among ethnic and racial groups, African Americans have the highest prostate cancer death rate.  Even so, a relatively low percentage of African-Americans are actually screened for the disease.

            Men with a higher risk for prostate cancer—African-Americans and those with a family history of prostate cancer—should begin screening at an earlier age.  Age and genetic predisposition are among the most important risk factors.  In fact, more than 70 percent of all prostate cancers occur in men over the age of 65.  This year 20,500 men in California will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 3,080 will die from the disease.

            A nationwide search is underway to find African-American families with a history of prostate cancer.  The National Physician and Family Referral (NPFR) Project is recruiting participants for a human genome research study that focuses on hereditary causes of prostate cancer in Black men.

            “I am really concerned about prostate cancer.  Too many of us are not getting the message,” said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters.  “Our men should start getting screenings by age 40.  If not, some of them are going to die.”

The American Cancer Society offers information and resources about cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and services for cancer patients and their families. 

For materials on prostate cancer, patient services and support programs call the American Cancer Society toll free at (800) ACS-2345 or visit the web site at www.cancer.org.  To find out more about NPFR, call (800) 677-8441 or long onto www.npfr.resourcez.com