In 2014, there will be approximately 233,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
On June 15, Father’s Day, the Martin Luther King Prostate Cancer Awareness (MLKPCA) organization will hold their 10th annual prostate cancer awareness event to educate African-American men about the importance of regular screenings and early detection.
Thirteen years ago, at age 59, Clifton Early was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Having beaten the disease after receiving radiation treatment, Early teamed up with Rev. Dr. Maceo Williams, also a prostate cancer survivor, to create MLKPCA.
The organization puts on annual event providing information and resources about prostate cancer.
“Early detection and early screenings, that’s what I’ve been trying to get across to the community the last 10 years,” said Early about the annual event in an interview with the AFRO.
African-American men are approximately 1.6 times more likely than White men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 2.4 times more likely to die as a result of the disease, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds prostate cancer research.
According to MLKPCA, 20 percent of African-American men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during their lifetimes, the highest prostate cancer rate among any group. African-Americans also have the highest prostate cancer death rate of any group. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis among African-American men.
While it is not clear why African-American men suffer higher rates of the disease, a lack of early detection contributes to the death rate.
“African-American men are less likely to receive screenings because of several reasons–economics, awareness, and financial,” said Early. “That’s been my whole fight for the last 10 years, to circumvent that.”
This year’s event will focus on how prostate cancer affects men and their families.
According to Early, one of the biggest problems that can arise as a result of prostate cancer is relationship stress due to a lack of sexual intimacy.
“During the process of prostate cancer, and treatment, and anything like that, your sex life takes a big hit,” said Early. “And mostly everybody gets off balance with that.”
Another issue, said Early, is that prostate cancer often forces family members into the role of caretakers, having to make sure that not only are medications being taken on time, but having to assist with tasks such as getting to the bathroom in a timely manner. All of this, Early explained, can create stress on the
For any men in the age group most likely to be afflicted by prostate cancer, the number one symptom to watch out for is difficulty urinating, according to Early.
MLKPCA’s 10th annual Father’s Day event will be held at Union Memorial United Methodist Church at 2500 Harlem Avenue in Baltimore. The program begins at 11 a.m., and will feature Dr. Arif Hussain, an oncologist from University Hospital, as well as WBAL-TV news anchor Stan Stovall.
Those who cannot attend the event can visit www.mlkpca.org for information on where they can receive free or low-cost screenings, as well as learn other facts about the disease.