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ACS launches new IMPACT program to combat prostate cancer disparities

The American Cancer Society launched a new initiative geared toward “Improving Mortality from Prostate Cancer Together,” called IMPACT. ACS executive leaders announced the program at an event on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on the heels of the release of the organization’s widely-cited annual Cancer Statistics report. This program will work to address inequities and a resurgence in this number two leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States.

After two decades of decline, prostate cancer has increased 3% per year from 2014 through 2019, driven by advanced-stage diagnoses and less PSA or prostate-specific antigen testing. Since 2011, the diagnosis of advanced-stage (regional- or distant-stage) prostate cancer has increased by 4% to 5% annually and the proportion of men diagnosed with distant-stage disease has doubled.

IMPACT will be a three-fold strategy designed to reverse prostate cancer disparities and reduce death rates from prostate cancer in all demographics and disparities for Black men by 2035. The goal is for this program to be the largest funded initiative in the history of ACS, leveraging the organization’s unique strengths to mobilize resources across advocacy, patient support, and research.

“Our overall goals, for all men, can only be accomplished with community partnerships, including standing shoulder to shoulder with trusted organizations that share our vision to meaningfully address disparities in prostate cancer,” Dr. Karen Knudsen, ACS CEO, said in a media release this week. “This is a critical initiative, and we are seeking partnerships with diverse stakeholders to ensure its success.”

At Thursday's event, Dr. Knudsen told attendees ACS is working to “end prostate cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

Some of the long and notable list of speakers at the event are pictured above from left to right: ACS CAN Director, Federal Relations - Cancer, Prevention, Early Detection and Screening James Williams; ACS Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Tawana Thomas-Johnson; Dr. Knudsen; ACS Chief Scientific Officer Dr. William Dahut; ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse; ACS Chief Patient Officer Dr. Arif Kamal; and Howard University President and ACS Board Member Dr. Wayne FrederickRep. Donald M. Payne Jr., from the 10th district in New Jersey, also spoke during the event and is pictured with Dr. Knudsen in the smaller photo.

Other speakers include National Medical Association President Dr. Garfield Clunie; Dr. Keith Crawford, Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN) ambassador; and Rep. Troy Carter from the 2nd District of Louisiana.

“Our bodies give us a red light and we often ignore it,” Rep. Carter said Thursday. “We can give a better message to our community about preventive health and taking care of our bodies.”

The event also featured a panel discussion moderated by Thomas-Johnson on “Community Partners, Working Together,” which addressed the question of how ACS can leverage partnerships to bring science to the community in a way that resonates with Black men.

Dr. Dahut told attendees, “This is the right place and the right time” to make a difference in prostate cancer.” During the panel discussion he touched on ACS’s work with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). “ACS has put a major emphasis on funding infrastructure and training at HBCUs. We are building a community step by step. We need to change the face of the research and clinical workforce.”

In a media release Dr. Dahut said, “IMPACT will fund bold new cancer research programs that connect the laboratory, the clinic, and the community. These studies will help discern who is most at risk for prostate cancer, and how to prevent it. Additional IMPACT programs will enable the expansion of patient support to facilitate access to quality prostate cancer screening and care, as well as public policy advancement designed to directly address the burden of prostate cancer on the US population.”

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