Innovative SC AMEN project sheds light on black men and prostate cancer

Lee Moultrie likes to speak candidly. To get him out. When men get together to talk about their favorite Super Bowl game or basketball team, it brings up the other question they should be discussing – like they know when they should get screened for prostate cancer. .

“It’s important because most men don’t talk about their health. It has to be a normal daily discussion, ”he said. “We’ll talk about your favorite basketball player or soccer team, but then I’ll ask you, ‘At what age did you have your first testicular exam or prostate exam? “

He often encounters silence. Moultrie, a prostate cancer survivor, laughs and admits it can be a conversation starter, but then he’s quick to let men know they should start testing for testicular cancer when they’re young, then add prostate screening tests to list in quarantine.

That’s why he’s thrilled that MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is launching the AMEN program this spring, and he will be one of its biggest ambassadors. The 15-month project, led by a cancer researcher Marvella Ford, Ph.D., associate director of population and cancer disparities science, will focus on black men between the ages of 40 and 65 who are in the recommended age group for prostate cancer screening.

“It’s focused on an area that is really of critical importance, which is prostate cancer in black men,” she said. “We know that in South Carolina, black men die of prostate cancer at a rate almost three times that of white men with prostate cancer, so that’s a real problem. And we absolutely know that if we can screen more men and educate people about prostate cancer and then help with screening tests, then we will be able to reduce the death rates.

Here is how the program works. Its three objectives are:

  • Offer monthly prostate cancer education sessions to black men, with a focus on ways to increase prostate cancer screening in their communities.
  • Provide navigation services to those attending prostate cancer training sessions to overcome any barriers they may face in obtaining prostate cancer screening.
  • To administer a follow-up survey to each program participant to assess prostate cancer screening rates after the information session.

Ford said she was grateful for community involvement like that of TD Bank, which partnered with Hollings to fund the project. “TD Bank really reached out to us with a request for a project focused on cancer disparities, specifically the disparities among black men. They saw the data, and they saw the need, and they allowed us to design a project that would really help meet that specific need. “

Scott Sharp, TD Bank South Coast Regional Vice President, explained the company’s vision. “TD recognizes that businesses have a responsibility to lead with determination, enabling our customers, colleagues and communities to access the resources and opportunities necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing world,” he said.

“We do this through the TD Ready Commitment, the bank’s corporate citizenship platform, which aims to generate social, economic, health and environmental impact, including support for programs such as AMEN at Hollings Cancer Center, to create more equitable health care outcomes. for everyone.”

A great attraction of the AMEN program for community partners is that it aims to help people lead healthier lives and encourages prostate cancer screening and awareness to detect diseases in early stages. This way, interventions can take place earlier, making them cheaper and more effective.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that access to quality health care, including awareness and advancements in early detection and intervention, may not be experienced in the same way in all communities and may differ based on a number of factors, ”Scott said. “These factors include race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and cultural nuances, to name a few. What we liked about AMEN’s efforts to remove these barriers, ensure a continuum of care, and measure success.

Ford said community partnerships are integral to the mission of Hollings, the only cancer center designated by the state’s National Cancer Institute. TD Bank’s support enables his team to reach out to minority men in their communities and give them the support and education they need to overcome barriers.

Many social determinants of health and contextual factors contribute to the observed disparities. “Health care is important,” said Ford, “sometimes men are ignored and sometimes they ignore their own symptoms. I think we just need a combination of giving people the educational tools they need and also providing institutionalized support in terms of connecting with health care facilities where they can receive testing and testing. other treatments they need.

“Black men have a lot of pressure and a lot of stress in society. What we want to do consistently is let black men know that their lives are important to us and that they are important to their families, their communities, the state, and the Hollings Cancer Center.
– Dr Marvella Ford

Ford said all participants will receive a $ 50 gift card at the start of the program, and then an additional $ 50 when they complete a three-month follow-up survey. At each session there will be freebies, so there are incentives to participate. The men who complete the program will become ambassadors in their own neighborhoods, spreading the word. Most importantly, they will receive the care they need.

“This is why we have integrated navigation into the AMEN program because we want to make sure that we are helping them access the testing sites and that we are helping them go the distance both geographically, culturally, emotionally and socially.” , she said.

“Black men have a lot of pressure and a lot of stress in society. What we want to do consistently is let black men know that their lives are important to us and that they are important to their families, their communities, the state, and the Hollings Cancer Center.

Ford is passionate about this project because of its own history. His four grandparents were deceased at the time of his birth. “I think as a kid, growing up and having no grandparents, I just felt this like a huge loss, and now I realize that I can put it in a bigger context. that life expectancy is shorter among blacks, ”she said. .

She has dedicated her career to addressing disparities in health in general. “The goal is really to help family members have fun for as long as possible because many black people die prematurely, when they could have lived another 10, 15 or even 20 years. It would have been long enough for them to see the birth of their grandchildren and to see their grandchildren graduating from elementary, high school, college, getting married and maybe even seeing their great grandchildren. .

Moultrie couldn’t agree more. “As a 64-year-old black man, I want people to get involved,” he said, praising the project for starting important discussions about healthcare in black communities. “I don’t believe in excuses or being a victim. As an alumnus of the company, I feel a responsibility to speak and have this conversation with other men. Yes, men want to talk about health issues because we want to live longer, and I’ve found that people appreciate you sharing this information with them.

For more information, visit the AMEN program website or email Melanie Slan at [email protected]

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