ABOVE: Brothers of the Mu Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity host an informative Prostate Awareness Seminar presented by board certified urologist, Dr. Lisly Chery with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Mu Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. hosts Prostate Awareness Seminar to highlight the importance of Black men being proactive about getting annual prostate exams
April is National Minority Health Month, so as we close out the month, it is important for us to raise awareness about the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minority communities and reducing health disparities, especially in the African American community.
The theme for National Minority Health Month in 2023 is Better Health Through Better Understanding, so as we continue to deal with the after-effects of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important that we also shine the light and get a better understanding on other health issues that continue to plague the Black community.
Prostate cancer has been a major health issue for men in this country, but it has been extremely problematic amongst Black men.
We have heard about people being diagnosed with prostate cancer before, but exactly what is a prostate, and more importantly, who is at risk of getting prostate cancer?
What is the Prostate?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, the prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, and testicles. It is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum and is about the size of a walnut. The prostate surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that empties urine from the bladder, and it produces the fluid that makes up a part of semen. As a man ages, the prostate tends to increase in size, which can cause the urethra to narrow and decrease urine flow.
Who is at Risk of Getting Prostate Cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 13% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2017–2019 data, and at the height of COVID-19 in 2020, there were roughly 3.4 million men here in the U.S. living with prostate cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all men are at risk for prostate cancer, and about 2 to 3 men will die from prostate cancer. The most common risk factor is age, so the older a man gets, the higher the probability that he can be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Sadly, Black men, especially those who have a family history of prostate cancer, are at an increased risk of not only being diagnosed with prostate cancer but dying from it as well. The CDC states that Black men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than other men, and Black men get diagnosed with prostate cancer at a younger age.
And listen…Black men tend to have a more advanced case and a more severe type of prostate cancer than other men.
Testing for Prostate Cancer
There are two tests that are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer.
One is a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, which measures the level of PSA in the blood. PSA is a substance that is made by the prostate. Generally, the higher the PSA level in a man’s blood, the more likely there is a prostate problem present, such as having prostate cancer, although that isn’t always the case.
The other most commonly known test is one that has created a major stigma amongst men for many years when it comes to having a doctor check their prostate. That seemingly intrusive test is known as the digital rectal examination (DRE). It involves a doctor or health care provider inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the man’s rectum to feel around their prostate to check for anything abnormal, such as prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer is a serious issue that has taken a lot of Black men’s lives. It is imperative that more education and awareness be provided to Black men to get past the stigma of being examined for prostate cancer and the urban myths surrounding the exam itself, so that more Black lives can be saved.
To help bring awareness to this very important issue, the Mu Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. recently hosted a Prostate Awareness Seminar at The Word of God Christian Fellowship in the Greater Houston area, to bring awareness to the issue of prostate cancer and to highlight the importance of Black men being proactive about getting annual prostate exams.
Dr. Lisly Chery, MD, who is a board-certified urologist specialist and an assistant professor in the Department of Urology, Division of Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, served as the presenter and gave a seminar to attendees of all ages about this topic that is hard for many men to come to grips with when it comes to getting their annual physical and having their prostate checked.
Dr. Chery is currently licensed to practice medicine in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. He completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University and received his medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Dr. Chery completed his urology residency at the University of Washington and completed his urologic oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has been practicing medicine for over 14 years and specializes in many top areas of expertise including Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), Bladder Cancer, Prostatectomy, Orchiectomy, and he treats all urologic cancers, with a particular interest in treating and bringing awareness to prostate cancer issues.
Dr. Chery shared critical information with the attendees regarding prostate cancer, stating that it is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men. It was stated that roughly 6 in 10 cases are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and that it is rare to be found in men under 40. Dr. Chery told attendees that raising the awareness of getting an annual prostate exam can lessen the chances of prostate cancer potentially becoming a more serious issue. It was stated that roughly 30% of men don’t even get their prostate checked, so those who don’t catch it early have a lower success rate when it comes to avoiding prostate cancer.
Dr. Chery also answered countless questions from the audience about the doubts, myths, and concerns regarding the subject.
Prostate Cancer is Real
Several attendees shared personal stories of how prostate cancer ravished their families, having impacted their fathers, uncles, brothers, and close friends, and even losing loved ones as a result.
James Manuel, 55, who serves on the Health Committee for the Mu Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., came out to the seminar and gave his first-hand testimonial of why it is important to get checked.
Manuel was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and was fortunate to have it detected early and surgery performed to address it.
Manuel, who lives in Houston and is a native of Louisiana, had a biopsy on December 20th of last year, and found out on December 30th that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“The first thing I thought about when I heard the word ‘CANCER’ was when am I going to die, and how long do I have left,” said Manuel. “I didn’t know that there was a strong chance that prostate cancer could be addressed if you catch it early. After I found out I was diagnosed, I started getting some additional opinions from doctors and other tests and found out that my prostate cancer was very aggressive.”
Manuel states that when the doctors found out the state of his prostate cancer, they immediately put him into surgery a few days after. Because he is also on dialysis, he couldn’t do chemotherapy, and so they were able to perform the surgery. He states that he had some serious pain and issues with controlling his urine and other things.
As a recent prostate cancer survivor, Manuel has one strong word of advice.
“Go get checked every year and if your regular doctor won’t do it, ask him for a referral,” said Manuel. “As Black men, we really need to get checked, because I had no symptoms, and I had no clue that prostate cancer was in me at all. Go get checked as often as possible.”
Terence Brown, who serves as the Health Committee Chairman for the Mu Mu Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. stated that he organized this seminar after talking with other men, friends, and fraternity brothers about getting the prostate checked out yearly and the high percentage of Black men dying from prostate cancer.
“We wanted to provide this audience of Black men with a platform to ask any questions that they may have had on this issue, because the lack of knowledge can be very damaging if you wait too late,” said Brown. “It can even lead to death, which is something we are focused on preventing.”
Urologists specialize in the male urinary tract and male reproductive organs, including the prostate. It is important that you go visit one and get your prostate checked, especially if your primary care physician (PCP) won’t perform the test.
So, Black men…don’t be afraid…get your prostate checked TODAY!