Hundreds of men have attended educational talks as part of a program of prostate cancer education and screening designed to help those most in need.
“Providing free prostate cancer education and screening empowers men to re-engage with their own health,” says Ana Fadich, Vice President at Men’s Health Network (MHN).
Three events, organized by the MHN and sponsored by Astellas, were held in Oklahoma, Milwaukee and Albany toward the end of 2017, as part of the advocacy group’s ongoing Dialogue on Men’s Health speaking tour.
“We went into communities where the populations were underserved and lacking in health insurance,” Ana Fadich tells Change Together. “A lot of these men have not gone to the doctor for years. We provide them with somewhere to go where they feel comfortable.”
Education and screening
The events, which were hosted by local MHN associates and supporting physicians, gave participants the opportunity to learn about the risk factors and nature of prostate cancer. Those held in Oklahoma and Milwaukee also offered free prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and digital rectal examinations.
“People have said that if these events were not available, they would not have had their PSA tested or even known why they should,” explains Fadich.
This lack of knowledge of testing has been compounded by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommending against PSA testing.1 However, that is expected to change when the recommendation reversing that decision, which is a draft at present, is finalized in the coming months.2
Mike Chavez, Community Benefit Specialist, from the INTEGRIS Men’s Health University in Oklahoma explained the impact the program has had for their community where a large percentage of men have only limited contact with physicians and the healthcare system as a whole. There, men not only fail to get routine check-ups or preventive care, but often ignore symptoms or delay seeking medical attention when sick or in pain.
“The opportunity to provide a program that provides education on prevention, resources, as well as an opportunity to receive the PSA test for free is greatly appreciated in the community,” said Chavez.
“Men are able to have peace of mind and begin to take the steps towards living a heathier lifestyle. Men can take preventative measures to avoid many of the diseases and conditions that are so often missed. The partnership with the Men’s Health Network has provided many of the resources needed to educate and reach men.”
Giving back control to the patient
“At the moment, even if a man went to his doctor and asked for a PSA test, he might be told ‘we don’t provide that.’ We want to make sure men have access to these tests. If someone comes to one of our events, it’s free and it’s easy. They don’t have to make a decision immediately; they can go back and talk to their families and their usual healthcare providers,” says Fadich.
And having that first conversation works because by taking control of their own health in this way, men who didn’t have health insurance became more open to seeing a doctor again.
Darrell Sabbs of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, where one of the events took place, says: “There is POWER in Prevention is our motto… the ability to reach, teach and preach prevention to men is essential, especially in rural communities. Our ability to share information and engage in meaningful dialogue is crucial to our community’s ability to rally and work upstream… this project brings and supports those opportunities.”
Giving back to the community
The MHN, which arranges education and screening sessions on all aspects of men’s health across the U.S., was set up to tackle a growing health inequality.
MHN runs sessions in churches and community centers, working with local healthcare systems to offer information and screening most relevant to each population. It also works with companies and federal agencies, visiting workplaces to offer advice on topics from cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular health, to mental health, fitness and nutrition.
“In the media, people are always hearing about the Affordable Care Act and health insurance, and they understand that it is important. But until something happens to them or their family, it’s in the back of their minds,” explains Fadich.
Ultimately, everyone benefits from the work the charity does, says Fadich. “If you make a healthier man, you are making a healthier family, which makes for a healthier community. It makes for a more productive workforce and a community that’s engaged and active.”
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final Recommendation Statement. Prostate Cancer Screening. Accessed January 24, 2018. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryFinal/prostate-cancer-screening
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Draft Recommendation Statement. Prostate Cancer: Screening. Accessed January 24, 2018. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement/prostate-cancer-screening1