Let’s Talk About Prostate Cancer: An Interview with Harold P. Freeman, M.D.
Harold P Freeman, M.D., is the President and Founder of The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in New York City and Founder of The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute. He is also the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Director of the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. Dr. Freeman is a past National President of the American Cancer Society. He served for 11 years as Chairman of the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel. Dr. Freeman pioneered the Patient Navigation Program.
Dr. Freeman recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions for this very important interview.
Black Men In America.com: Dr. Freeman, you are the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and former Director of the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. What is the number one health risk affecting black men?
Dr. Harold Freeman: Although the number one health risk affecting black men is smoking related disease such as lung cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in black men.
Black Men In America.com: What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
Dr. Harold Freeman: One of the main risk factors associated with prostate cancer is older age. Men over the age of 65 are more likely to get prostate cancer than younger ages. Changes in the prostate or genetic changes may also increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Having a family member such as a father, brother, or son can increase risk as well.
Black Men In America.com: What are the symptoms?
Dr. Harold Freeman: There are no symptoms associated with early stages of prostate cancer. Some symptoms associated with later stages of prostate cancer mainly include urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, painful urination, trouble urinating or a weak urine flow. Other symptoms include difficulty having an erection, blood in urine or semen, and frequent pain in the back, hips, or legs.
Black Men In America.com: What are the incidence and mortality rates for black men?
Dr. Harold Freeman: The incidence rate of prostate cancer among African Americans is 232.8per 100,000 men with a mortality rate of 51.1per 100,000 men. These rates are in comparison to an incidence rate of 163.1per 100,000 and a mortality rate of 23.6 per 100,000 for all men regardless of race.
Black Men In America.com: What is some of the latest research on prostate cancer?
Dr. Harold Freeman: A recent study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that a common genetic variation may be involved in developing prostate cancer. This study was one of the first to explain the biological mechanism underlying the difference in risk among individuals. Information about this study is available at http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/MSMBProstateYeager.
Black Men In America.com: Why do black men have higher incidence and mortality rates?
Dr. Harold Freeman: It is not known why African American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer. It is thought that higher prostate cancer mortality rates among African American men may be mostly due to late diagnosis and treatment.
Black Men In America.com: Where do black men go for additional information on prostate cancer?
Dr. Harold Freeman: For more information, African American men may visit www.cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-cancer to speak with a specialist regarding prostate cancer. Through the website and phone number, men can order free publications about prostate or other cancers.
Black Men In America.com: What’s the official word on prostate cancer screening?
Dr. Harold Freeman: There is still some uncertainty regarding prostate cancer screening. Ongoing clinical trials are trying to determine whether prostate cancer screening reduces the number of deaths from this disease. The most important message is that men—and African American men in particular—speak with a physician regarding prostate cancer screening options.
Black Men In America.com: Can you talk about the importance of the NCI’s Patient Navigation Program?
Dr. Harold Freeman: NCI’s Patient Navigation Program aims to develop interventions to reduce or eliminate cancer health disparities and test their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Patient navigators eliminate barriers to timely screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The principal barriers are: financial (such as lack of insurance); communication barriers; medical system barriers (such as lost results, failure to get timely consultations); and fear, distrust and emotional barriers. This program is important in the quest for standard, equal care for all.
Publisher’s Note: Thank you James Alexander, of the Multicultural Media Outreach Team of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Office of Communications and Education, Office of Partnerships and Dissemination Initiatives.
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