Local News

Group Aims To Cut Number Of Prostate Cancer Deaths

Posted September 12, 2003 2:30 a.m. EDT

— Prostate cancer strikes one out of every five men, according to the American Cancer Society.

North Carolina ranks seventh in the country in the number of prostate cancer deaths. African-American men in the state have the highest incidence and death rate in the world, according to the Prostate Cancer Coalition of North Carolina.

Considering the odds, Randolph Bazemore considers himself a lucky man. Three years ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is alive today thanks to early detection.

"I didn't consider cancer to be a death sentence," he said.

Michael Taylor's father and uncle died from the disease.

"Being African-American and having a family history of it, I could pretty much put it on my calendar and that's scary to me," Taylor said.

Prostate cancer is curable when caught early.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screenings for men starting at age 50 and earlier for African-Americans and those with a family history of prostate cancer. The screening should consist of a PSA blood test and exam.

"It's not either, or. Both of those tools are essential if we're going to make an early diagnosis," said Dr. Leroy Darkes of the Rex Senior Health Center.

To raise awareness, the Prostate Cancer Coalition of North Carolina organizes free screenings. Its goal is to cut prostate cancer deaths 50 percent in five years.

"We can do it. Again, that very first step awareness," Darkes said.

"Once we raise awareness we can do something about decreasing the death rate," Taylor said.

Bazemore is doing his part by sharing his story with other men.

Taylor is taking the campaign a step further. He organized a walk that takes place this weekend to raise money to fight the disease.

Even though he is just 33 years old, Taylor already gets screened for prostate cancer.

"If I'm going to talk the talk I have to walk the walk," he said.

Prostate cancer usually has no symptoms, which is why screenings are important.