Kappa Alpha Psi took Philadelphia by storm at the end of July during its 84th Conclave, and one of the fraternity’s most popular initiatives was Precision Oncology, a partnership with Black Health Matters and the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health designed to address prostate cancer and clinical trials.
Black Health Matters helped kick off Precision Oncology with these sobering statistics:
- Prostate cancer diagnosis and death rates among black men are the highest in the world.
- Discrepancies in health statistics for more than 17 million black men, compared to men of other races, highlight a great need to better address their causes.
- As a group, black men have the lowest life expectancy and the highest death rates compared to men and women of all other racial and ethnic groups.
BHM and Kappa Alpha Psi sought to put these numbers in an understandable framework with presentations from Edward Scott, D.D.S., Kappa Alpha Psi’s national health and wellness chair; Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, M.D., a core investigator at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion; Shinta Cheng, executive medical director, clinical oncology, Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Mark T. Fleming, M.D., president of Virginia Oncology Associates; and Leonard Gomella, M.D., senior director of clinical affairs at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Centers at Jefferson Health.
Presenters didn’t sugar coat anything.
“Every day 274 people are dying due to issues of racism and health,” Dr. Jenkins said. “We still haven’t figured out how to have the conversation.”
Dr. Gomella spoke about the importance of minority participation in clinical trials. “African American men in some prostate cancer clinical trials have better outcomes than their white counterparts,” he said. “This is very encouraging, but we’d never know this if not for clinical trials.”
Though the city of Philadelphia, where Dr. Gomella is based, has a nearly 60 percent success rate at recruiting black men into its prostate cancer clinical trials, nationwide, the numbers are poor. “Nationwide, only 4 percent to 12 percent of participants in prostate cancer clinical trials are minorities. We need to do a better job,” he said.
Precision Oncology reached 50,000 members of the fraternity, and an even greater number of Philadelphians through extensive media coverage on local TV, newspapers and radio, including ABC6, the Philadelphia Inquirer and 105.3 FM.
The initiative doesn’t stop here. Precision Oncology has created a national multiyear initiative to improve health literacy as it relates to clinical trials participation and prostate cancer. One objective is to get 10,000 men screened for prostate cancer over the next two years, with nationwide outreach activities scheduled, including in Atlanta and Houston.