When the Rev. Donald Jordan found out he had prostate cancer, he knew that he wasn't alone.
His two brothers already suffered from
the disease, but Jordan wondered how many other people--especially
those who can't afford health care--are suffering from prostate cancer
but don't know it.
Jordan's oncologist, Bill Barrett, MD, of UC's Division of Radiation Oncology, expressed similar concerns.
Studies have shown that people without
health care access tend to have lower survival rates after being
diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared with those who have access.
This, some argue, is because these
individuals are diagnosed late, when the disease has already progressed
to a more advanced stage.
Jordan and Dr. Barrett knew that something needed to be done.
"Dr. Barrett and I saw the need to have
prostate cancer screenings in poor, urban areas where people can get
some help," Jordan says. "Most of these people can't afford heath care,
and therefore won't get tested. However, with Dr. Barrett's lead we
were able to do something."
The result was a free prostate screening
program, developed by Dr. Barrett and run by resident physicians. Each
Saturday throughout the year, five UC radiation oncology residents
rotate duty at the clinics, from noon to 5 p.m., in the Jordan Crossing
shopping mall in Bond Hill.
Jordan, the former pastor of Allen Temple
African Methodist Episcopal Church, which owns the shopping mall, felt
so strongly about the program that he persuaded the church's foundation
to offer free store space to conduct the clinics.
Jordan even asked the church to schedule the screening appointments.
Soon, other sponsors, such as
Western-Southern Life, American Financial Group and the American Cancer
Society of Hamilton County, followed Allen Temple's lead by
underwriting the equipment and supplies needed to hold the clinics.
To date, more than 400 men have been screened and 5 percent have had abnormal test results, requiring further follow up.
"By taking our services directly to the
community, we're able to diagnose prostate cancer earlier and connect
people to the comprehensive care that's critical to a full recovery,"
says Dr. Barrett.
The program has grown dramatically since
Dr. Barrett and Jordan's initial conversation nearly two years ago.
With the help of a mobile screening van, similar to a motor home,
residents now host additional clinics two Saturdays of every month at
the Avondale Town Center and in the Walnut Hills Kroger parking lot
near Peebles Corner. They also hold free screenings at various health
and wellness events throughout the year in Greater Cincinnati.
"We have two vans that we used for
mammography and cancer education and screening for special events,"
says Reza Shirazi, MD, chief resident in UC's Department of Radiation
Oncology, "but they weren't being used most of the time, so we asked
how we could benefit from them.
"We now use the vans to conduct
screenings at places where we know there will be a huge turnout. Many
people approach the van to ask us what we are doing, so we use the
opportunity to educate them. It's been a very positive experience."
r. Shirazi says the No. 1 reason people
come to the clinics is that a family member "made them." He recalls the
time when a man in his late 30s with an early family history of
prostate cancer was brought to the Avondale Town Center screening
clinic by his mother. The man was angry and apprehensive, but he tested
positive--an unlikely result at his age.
"This man would not have been seen
otherwise," says Dr. Shirazi. "He would not have gone to any doctor,
but because he got screened we were able to offer some treatment
Other people, says Dr. Shirazi, are
referred to the program by their physicians largely because the testing
is free and many of them don't have health insurance. Tests can run
anywhere from $50 to $60 for blood work alone.
Residents conduct comprehensive prostate
screening exams, which include a medical history questionnaire,
consultation, post-exam recommendation, digital rectal exam and
prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test conducted by an on-site
Dr. Shirazi says that because the program
has been so well received, the team may expand the screening clinics to
include other diseases.
"We could possibly check for diabetes or colon cancer at the same time and help even more people," he says.
The American Cancer Society reports that
prostate cancer will result in more than 30,000 deaths in the United
States in 2005, making it the second leading cause of cancer-related
mortality among men. The most at-risk population for prostate cancer
are African-American men over age 45 with a family history of the