Last week, thousands of members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. learned about prostate cancer during its 84th Grand Chapter meeting.
The fraternity has partnered with Black Health Matters, a health and chronic disease management platform and Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health to kick off a prostate cancer and clinical trial education initiative.
The Precision Oncology initiative was launched during a free public forum held Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1201 Arch St.
Roslyn Daniels, president and founder of Black Health Matters, said it made sense to collaborate with Kappa Alpha Psi to address health disparities among Black men.
"When you look at the health disparities, African Americans as a whole are really hit pretty hard, but when you look at our men the health statistics are just abominable and there are just so many reasons why their health is so poor," she stated.
She said the long term goal of the partnership with Kappa Alpha Psi is to encourage 10,000 African American men to be screened for prostate cancer and encourage the fraternity to share health information with its membership during the next two years.
The upcoming forum comes as African American men are 76 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men of other ethnicities and 2.2 times more likely to die of the disease according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
“We feel it’s important to educate African American men about the prevalence of prostate cancer while improving strategies for managing the disease,” said Joseph B. Hill, Jefferson’s chief diversity officer and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Through a series of presentations from experts, Precision Oncology will address disparities in access to healthcare and strategies to improve health holistically while increasing health literacy within the Black community.
Dr. Edward Scott, the national health and wellness chair of Kappa Alpha Psi, will serve as master of ceremonies for the upcoming forum. Featured speakers include Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, vice provost, postdoctoral fellow, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Shinta Cheng, executive medical director, clinical oncology, Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Dr. Mark T. Fleming, president, Virginia Oncology Associates and Dr. Leonard Gomella, senior director of clinical affairs, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.
Gomella will reiterate the importance of African American men participating in clinical trials during his presentation.
"Traditionally African Americans have among the lowest participation in clinical trials across the board, but in particular for prostate cancer," he explained.
"My take home message is the only way that we are going to be able to make progress in the African American population is through participation in clinical trials. We've been able show through some these clinical trials that have had a reasonably good participation by the African American community, that they actually do better under certain circumstances with more advanced cases of prostate cancer and that's very good news to share."