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May 29, 2014

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Thomas Farrington
Thomas Farrington, founder and president of the Prostate Health Education

Boston-Based Group Uses Black Churches to Spread the Word About Prostate Cancer

The Prostate Health Education Network has partnered with churches in 16 cities

by Frederick H. Lowe
Staff Writer
NorthStar News & Analysis
The Prostate Health Education Network, a Boston-based organization that makes black men and their families aware of prostate cancer, will hold in June symposiums and church rallies nationwide about the disease, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among African-American men, according to the American Cancer Society.

Thomas Farrington, president and founder of PHEN, said the symposiums and church rallies will be held at 16 churches.

The Symposiums Will Discuss A Wide-Range Of Issues
The symposiums, which will be held on Saturday, June 14th, will be attended by medical professionals who will discuss prostate cancer risks and treatment options. In addition, prostate cancer survivors will discuss the disease and there will be a prostate cancer roundtable, Farrington told The NorthStar News & Analysis.

The symposiums also address the needs of healthy men who are at high risk of prostate cancer; men newly diagnosed with the disease, men with advanced-stage prostate cancer, caregivers and family members.  In addition, the symposiums also will address the importance of faith in healing.

On June 15th, Father's Day, PHEN will hold church rallies at the 16 participating churches in which prostate cancer survivors and their families will discuss the disease. The Father's Day rallies will be incorporated into the churches Sunday services.

"We want to talk to the men and women about prostate cancer because the women will urge their husbands to get checked," Farrington said. The symposiums and church rallies will be held at each participating church.
Prostate Cancer Is Called An Epidemic In The Black Community
Farrington called prostate cancer an epidemic in the black community. The American Cancer Society reported in its booklet "Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans—2011 to 2012" that well-established risk factors for prostate cancer are age, race and family history of the disease. African-American men and Jamaican men have the highest prostate cancer-incidence rates worldwide.

The American Cancer Society said prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer cases among black men, ahead of lung and bronchus cancer and colon and rectum cancer.

Prostate cancer is a cancer that starts in the prostate gland. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that makes up part of a man's reproductive system. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. Some but not all the symptoms include straining when urinating, or not being able to empty all of the urine and blood in the urine or semen.

Clark Atlanta University and the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development reported that black men have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer, the highest risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer and have the highest mortality rate from the disease.

Prostate cancer deaths, however, peaked among black men in 1993 and began to decline thereafter due to improved radiologic and surgical treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.

Many prominent individuals have urged black men to get checked for the disease. One of them is the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam in Chicago. Minister Farrakhan has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Farrington, a 14-year prostate cancer survivor, said black men suffer from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and they are five times more likely to die from the disease.

He added that prostate cancer has spread among African-American men because of lack knowledge about the disease, lack awareness about treatments available and a lack of access to health care.

Black men also have been reluctant to openly discuss having prostate cancer because some earlier treatments left them sexually impotent.

Both the symposiums and the Father's Day rally Against Prostate Cancer encourage black men to openly discuss the disease. The following churches are participating in the symposium and Father's Day rally:

  • Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta;
  • Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.;
  • Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston;
  • St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago;
  • Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas;
  • Union Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. ;
  • Reid Temple AME Church in Glenn Dale, Md.;
  • Greater Grant Memorial Church in Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Greater Allen Cathedral AME Church in Jamaica, N.Y.;
  • Bethel AME Church of Los Angeles in Los Angeles;
  • First AME District Headquarters in Philadelphia;
  • Carver Memorial Presbyterian Church in Newport News, Va.;
  • Acts of Full Gospel Church in Oakland, Calif.;
  • St. Matthew Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.;
  • The St. Paul's Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.;
  • New Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

  • The Greater Allen Cathedral AME Church will hold is symposium on July 12, 2014, and Acts Full Gospel Church will hold its symposium on June 21.

    The host churches have a collective membership of more than 100,000.

    Anyone wishing to attend a symposium, may register online at The symposiums are free and open to the public.

    Farrington founded PHEN in 2003. This is the sixth year the organization has worked with churches to spread awareness about prostate cancer.

    "Our goal is to eliminate the prostate cancer disparity in the black community through a grassroots effort," he said.

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