“We believe we’re no more than $1billion away from defeating prostate cancer,” says Colleen McKenna, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).
When PCF was founded in 1993, the death rate from prostate cancer was on the rise. Twenty-six years later, we can estimate that 1.5 million more men are alive today thanks to innovations in research and treatment, funded by PCF. Despite deaths from prostate cancer being cut in half (52%), says Colleen, there is still work to be done.
“The biggest challenge is always funding. The sooner we can raise the funds, the sooner we will have treatments for these men.”
While the group’s focus may have changed over its 26-year history, funding, backing and providing access to quality research has remained mission critical.
“Thanks in large part to the work of PCF-funded researchers, between 2011 and 2018 the number of drugs approved to treat prostate cancer more than doubled – from just 6 drugs approved in nearly 30 years to another 9 drugs approved in just 9 years,” Colleen explains. However, in recent years, the organization has been directed toward connecting people with PCF’s resources.
An information democracy
“We are as close to the work being done in the space as any organization, and therefore we have an obligation to provide the latest information to patients and those who love them,” says Colleen, adding that the group’s website has “democratized” the dissemination of information and science about prostate cancer.
One particular area of research PCF is dedicated to supporting is the health disparity in outcomes between the African American and white populations. Black men in America are 74% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease and more than twice as likely to die from it than their white counterparts.
“This just isn’t OK, and therefore PCF is heavily invested in understanding why this disparity exists,” Colleen observes, adding that, in the meantime, it is the job of patient advocacy groups to ensure people have access to the most up-to-date, trusted, evidence-based information.
“While researchers endeavor to understand if the problem is genetic or societal/lifestyle, we know there are specific things men, and actually all people, can do to reduce their chances of cancer.
To help cut through the information noise, PCF has developed Additional Facts for African American Men and Their Families to go alongside the Prostate Cancer Patient Guide.
One of our biggest challenges is the reluctance of men to talk about prostate cancer. This has improved over the years, but it is still challenging to find men willing to be open about their experience.