WASHINGTON — Scores of Washington-area residents got up early – very early – to walk to raise money to educate men about prostate cancer and to support prostate cancer research and outreach at the Howard University Cancer Center.

Participants began at 6:30 a.m. at scenic Hains Point at the southern tip of East Potomac Park and walked 5 kilometers.

The walk was sponsored by Union Temple Baptist Church, the NAACP D.C. Branch and other participating organizations.

Dr. Carla Williams, interim director of the Howard University Cancer Center, which is located at Howard University Hospital, praised the sponsoring organizations and said the support is desperately needed.

African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men and are new two and a half times more likely to die from the disease, she noted.

“We will use this money to better understand the risk factors for prostate cancer and to understand the various types of prostate cancer,” Williams said.  “Some forms of the disease are very aggressive and some are less aggressive.”

It is widely believed that a combination of genetics, lifestyle, nutritional habits and medical care may contribute to higher cancer rates and deaths.