NBA legend who is prostate cancer survivor talks about inequities in healthcare

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently opened up about his private battle with prostate cancer since being diagnosed 11 years ago.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer revealed how he’s had prostate cancer, leukemia and heart bypass surgery. He is sharing his story in order to shed light on the health challenges facing black people.

While he’s received some of the best medical attention over the years as an NBA star, he’s aware of how others in the Black community do not.

In an essay, Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that some of the health issues black people are prone to as a group include diabetes, heart problems, obesity and cancer.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial group for all cancers combined, and have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease than other groups. This trend is continuing with COVID-19, which Abdul-Jabbar highlighted in his essay.

Abdul-Jabbar pointed out how more black people are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates because they are essential workers.

Based on data from several states, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Black and Latino communities across the U.S. hard, killing people of color at a disproportionate rate compared to white Americans.

The fact that people of color have more face-to-face jobs with people, they are more likely to be involved in healthcare, and they have to use public transportation. Those factors in and of themselves will make the people of color more susceptible, more vulnerable to a pandemic.

New drug research for prostate cancer may also aid in fighting COVID-19

Two women from the QUT Faculty of Health’s School of Biomedical Science, are developing drugs to fight advanced prostate cancer that could also prevent and or treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Dr. Lisa Philp and Professor Colleen Nelson and their research team, based at the Translational Research Institute, realized their research on two hormones secreted by body fat, that modulate prostate cancer tumor growth could also have roles in driving the rapid-onset, severe lung inflammation that kills patients with serious COVID-19 disease.

The research team had been investigating two novel drugs that target fat hormones, one hormone which is pro-inflammatory, and another hormone that has an anti-inflammatory effect; each of which is involved in the progression of prostate cancer.

Using their data and knowledge of COVID-19 research the team came to the hypothesis that these drugs could be effective treatments for ARDS.

The team had been collaborating with two US-based biotech companies to advance their research on the drugs to a phase 1 clinical trial in prostate cancer patients. They have very strong data that both these drugs suppress tumor progression in advanced treatment-resistant prostate cancer and, importantly, inflammation.

The good news is the San Francisco company working on this drug has already used it in patients with inflammatory eye conditions, so we know it is safe for human use. In fact, the company is developing it for other illnesses such as liver disease.

The team had been working with this company in the prostate cancer context but when COVID hit we said to them that it could be a great treatment for ARDS. The company is supporting us financially to be able to get through these proof of principle pre-clinical studies.

Today Show host talks about his prostate cancer

In November 2020, 66 year old Al Roaker one of the hosts of the Today revealed on the NBC News show that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Weeks later the famous weatherman underwent prostate cancer surgery.

During his recovery he has been inundated with supportive messages from fans. He has been very open about how he has been taking care of himself following his surgery.

The popular weatherman posted on social media photos of himself going for a walk, with comments about how much he truly needs to exercise and how it helps him feel like he is doing things to truly take care of himself. He encourages his fans to take care of themselves.

Many people commented back thanking Al for his daily inspirational thoughts. They encouraged him to stay strong and safe and thanked him for his positivity. Fans also commented on how his upbeat spirit was perceived as very healing. People appreciate the fact that Al brings a smile to their faces even in these difficult times.

Before physically returning to the studio Al made a virtual appearance from his home saying that the pathology report had showed there was no evidence of cancer beyond his prostate.

Al recently returned to the Today Show studios after his recovery post-surgery. Fortunately, he was able to announce to viewers the positive news that doctors were certain that they had managed to remove the cancer. He credited his triumphant return to the studio to great medical care and the love of friends and family.

When back at work, the star told co-workers that he was feeling good.

Historic Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Bill Passes in the House of Representatives

The House unanimously passed H.R. 6092, also called the Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act which is designed to establish a national clinical pathway for prostate cancer. This standardized system of care has been designed to enhance treatment and increase access to clinical trials via a registry for the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the Veterans Health Administration.

The prostate cancer rate for veterans is nearly double that of civilians. These service members have dedicated their lives to the American people and they deserve to receive the same high quality care any one of us would expect when faced with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. The House of Representatives has helped to ensure that the nearly half a million veterans facing prostate cancer are no longer subjected to the risks of an unorganized health system.
This effort was sponsored by Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. who is a former urologist. No timetable has been set for when the Senate may vote on the measure, but it’s expected to move quickly through the Senate.

Tips For Prostate Cancer Survivors; Keep An Eye On Cancer

There are more than 3.6 million prostate cancer survivors in the United States. Thanks in part to reliable diagnostic tests and numerous treatment options, nearly 100 percent of men are still alive five years after a prostate cancer diagnosis, 98 percent are alive 10 years after diagnosis, and about 96 percent are alive 15 years after diagnosis.

Prostate cancer survivors need regular follow-up tests to determine whether their prostate cancer has recurred or progressed. According to experts at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), most prostate cancer survivors should have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test every six to 12 months for the first five years after active treatment ends, then annually thereafter. Also, a yearly digital rectal examination (DRE) is recommended for some men, although this exam is not as important as PSA testing.

Prostate cancer survivors also need to be checked regularly for any new cancers that may develop. As an example, men treated with radiation therapy, particularly external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), have a slightly higher risk of developing bladder cancer than those who had a radical prostatectomy. In addition, the risk of developing colon or rectal cancer may be slightly higher for these patients.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends following cancer screening guidelines for higher risk individuals where they exist. If any new symptoms develop in prostate cancer survivors, such as blood in the urine or rectal bleeding, those patients need to report them to the doctor right away.

Coming To The Market Soon; An Improved Test For Prostate Cancer

Some health providers feel that the lack of testing for prostate cancer today could be considered as a public health crisis.

The Simple Test Game Changer

The Journal of Urology has recently announced that miR Scientific, a healthcare company founded for the purpose of transforming cancer management, has validated its breakthrough, standalone liquid biopsy urine test for prostate cancer.
The validation study suggests that miR’s Sentinel test may be a much-needed and much-anticipated game-changer for men, clinicians, and healthcare providers as it could possibly replace today’s uncomfortable and invasive needle biopsies with a straightforward urine sample.

The test could potentially reduce three quarters of the prostate biopsies currently conducted. It could also drastically improve the coverage ratio of men tested.

According to the new study, the test detects the presence of cancer as well as classifies its aggressiveness for ongoing monitoring with over 91% sensitivity and specificity. Results are returned in just 7 days. Based on a urine sample, the Sentinel test produces its results by isolating molecules called small-non-coding RNAs, which are produced at or near the first inception of a prostate tumor.

This test leverages a proprietary algorithm to analyze the combination of these molecules present in the urine, and this analysis results in the cancer diagnosis and classification by stage.

Tips On Prostate Cancer And Diet

Studies have shown that people who generally eat more vegetables lead a healthier lifestyle. They tend to exercise more regularly and keep their weight to a normal level.

All of these factors are associated with better prostate outcomes. But it’s important that men with a family history maintain vigilance no matter what their diet or exercise regime.

When it comes to prostate cancer, a general rule to follow is that heart-healthy is prostate healthy. Men who have factors that are healthier for their heart such as blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are ultimately helping their prostate as well.

And of course, good exercise and diet doesn’t just help with prostate cancer. It also helps men avoid many other serious health issues.

Risk For Prostate Cancer May Increase From Habits Brought On By COVID-19

In the United States one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according the American Cancer Society. Yet many men are putting off life-saving cancer screenings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Prostate cancer is far too common to ignore; however, some men are unwilling to get checked during the pandemic.

The method for testing for prostate cancer is simple: a conversation with your doctor and a blood draw. The initial prostate cancer screening is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) exam. It is not a physical exam. A doctor can include PSA test with any lab order for blood work.

How pandemic habits may contribute to increased risk

There is an important diet, fitness and wholeness component to prostate cancer that many men are unaware of. These factors all have a significant impact on health outcomes.

Since the pandemic there has been an increase of bad habits among patients who are coping with being shut in/much more inactive. These habits can contribute to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Additional pandemic-based risk factors include:

– Men are putting off healthcare and ignoring health issues because of the pandemic even though testing continues to be crucial.
– Doctors are seeing a surge in weight gain/belly fat from patients because they are reporting lack of exercise and poor diet choices. Studies show if your belly circumference measures greater than 36 inches, you are at greater risk of prostate cancer.
– Smoking. As a coping mechanism, many men have started smoking or have upped their smoking because they are experiencing stress, boredom and loneliness during the pandemic. Many health professionals feel that smoking can dictate the level of prostate cancer a man will have and also affect their ability to fight it.

Important facts about prostate cancer

– Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, both in the U.S. and globally.
– Approximately 192,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year: 1 in 9 men. 1 in 6 African American men.
– All men are at risk, but the risk increases significantly as men age. Men from 55 to 70 should talk with their doctor about a PSA testing on a 1 to 2-year basis.

Risk factors and early screening

Some men are at a higher risk for prostate cancer at a significantly younger age; as early as 40 years old. Early prostate cancer screening including a PSA test has been suggested by some doctors for men ages 40-54 if they meet the following criteria:

– They are of African-American decent.
– They have a father, brother, son, uncle or grandfather who has had prostate cancer.

Cal Ripken Jr. Talks About His Recovery From Prostate Cancer Surgery

“It stops you in your tracks, for sure. I mean, as a kid, when you go back to the days when I was a kid and you heard cancer, it was a death sentence. It was the worst possible news you could hear,” said Mr. Ripken.

Ripken, who recently turned 60, was diagnosed with prostate cancer just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting to set in.

Fortunately, the prostate cancer was caught early and Mr. Ripken was able to undergo surgery at Johns Hopkins, but was able to avoid both radiation and chemotherapy.

Because it was very early in the process, Mr. Ripken felt that surgery was the right answer. “It was a great ending, it was all contained in the prostate, it’s all gone. I’m cancer-free and basically resumed normal activities as I always did,” says Ripken.

At first, Mr. Ripken chose to remain very private about his diagnosis and he didn’t tell anyone. But then as time went on, he changed his mind because he wanted to encourage men to get their physicals.

It is very important for men to get regular checkups because catching prostate cancer early is key. If it is caught early prostate cancer is very treatable. And checking for prostate cancer is easy.

Website Provides Good Education About Chemotherapy to the Prostate Cancer Community

Three non-profit organizations have joined together to help prostate cancer patients better understand chemotherapy and when its right for them

Prostate cancer advocacy organizations ZERO, Us TOO International and Prostate Conditions Education Council announce the launch of an educational website specific to chemotherapy for treating prostate cancer.

It is estimated that more than 191,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2020. While most prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, prostate cancer can recur or advance after an initial treatment; and some men have an initial diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer. Once prostate cancer is advanced, it can be managed but not cured. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for managing advanced prostate cancer but not routinely considered as a treatment option at other stages of the disease.

The prostate cancer chemotherapy website provides objective, balanced information about how chemotherapy works and when it should be considered as a treatment option. It addresses using chemotherapy in combination with other treatments and the potential for sequencing it in a treatment regimen. Along with the benefits of chemotherapy, probable treatment side effects are outlined as well as information for managing side effects.

“The purpose of the website is to provide an enduring educational platform on prostate cancer chemotherapy with current, accurate, and unbiased information,” noted Wendy Poage, President of the Prostate Conditions Education Council. “Content will help to educate patients and caregivers about how chemotherapy fits into the evolving prostate cancer disease journey. It features questions to ask your doctor and debunks some common myths about chemotherapy.”

The idea for the website was the result of a brainstorming session at an industry meeting attended by all of the participants. A discussion about current challenges for finding comprehensive information about chemotherapy for prostate cancer led to the idea of developing the website.

“Patients are finding it increasingly difficult to understand various prostate cancer treatment options throughout the disease journey,” stated Jamie Bearse, CEO of ZERO. “This website will serve as an important online destination for the prostate cancer community to find reliable facts about chemotherapy.”

A common deliverable of the three prostate cancer nonprofit organizations collaborating on this project is educational content to help men living with prostate cancer make informed treatment decisions at all phases of the disease. In addition to comprehensive educational written content and videos, the website will feature links to other resources including support groups.

“Beyond the facts and stats, it’s important to provide opportunities for men with prostate cancer to learn from each other and share their personal experiences with treatment decisions and side effect management,” said Us TOO International CEO Chuck Strand. “This website includes connections to support groups for men to exchange peer to peer information in person, online, or on a conference call.”

Collaboration on the chemotherapy prostate cancer website will extend beyond the launch to include future content updates.

The chemotherapy website can be found at any of the web addresses below: