Last week I was delighted to join local TV legend Susan Wornick in emceeing the 6th Annual Prostate Cancer Awareness Day at the Massachusetts State House. This is always such a special event, and this year was no different.
Organized by the AdMeTech Foundation in cooperation with the Massachusetts Prostate Cancer Coalition and Men of Color Health Awareness Project, Prostate Cancer Awareness Day highlights our common goal to make Massachusetts a model of national leadership in prostate cancer research, education, and awareness resulting in improved patient care.
The facts about prostate cancer are compelling.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common major cancer in men – and one of the most lethal. Research has shown that family history, age, and ethnicity can be factors that contribute to a man’s chance of having prostate cancer. But when it comes to the successful treatment of prostate cancer, make no mistake – early detection and screening is the key to saving lives. With early detection, men have a 100% survival rate in 5 years. With late diagnosis, that figure drops dramatically, with a 28% survival rate in 5 years.
Sadly, there is a health disparity angle to this story as well. Prostate cancer is 60% more common in African-American men than in other ethnic groups – and what’s more, 250% more lethal.
This is a disease that is not talked about as much as others, and in Massachusetts we’re actively taking steps to change that. Speakers at last week’s event included Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, who discussed the Legislature’s efforts to support and fund essential prostate cancer research and related activities. Other speakers, including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Marathon legend Bill Rodgers, brought a personal touch to the day by sharing their own stories of conquering cancer and describing the vital role that research, education, and awareness play in improving health outcomes for men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
As a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand how advances in diagnostic technology, when paired with education, can help men make informed decisions about their health. My good friend Jim Silverman shared his experiences about his recent diagnosis of prostate cancer and described how, through connecting with the appropriate resources, he was able to pursue options in his care and treatment that eliminated invasive, and in his case, unnecessary biopsies and surgery.
It was an empowering experience to hear these stories and celebrate these outcomes. Each is a testament to all of the tremendous work going on all over Massachusetts to combat prostate cancer. I’m so proud to be playing a role in this lifesaving initiative.
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