Health News

Raising prostate cancer awareness in African Americans

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. For African American the numbers can be frightening. Rates of prostate cancer in the US are 60 percent higher among African American men.

Long before social networking and the flood of information on the Internet, the barber shop was the original social club where men gathered to talk politics, sports, and in recent times, about prostate cancer.

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"We cracked jokes about it, reading the pamphlets," said Virgil Simons, the founder of The Prostate Net.

This idea of using the barber to spread the message about prostate health in minority communities was the brainchild of Simons, who created The Prostate Net website right after he recovered from prostate cancer surgery.

"We give them the tools [to] come through this on the other side," said Simons.

The Prostate Net gives men the chance to find out all the facts about prostate health in private. It shares information about the disease through its website, podcasts and e-mails. If you have the disease, it provides information on treatment and quality of life.

"On our website, we cover every [aspect of] how to navigate through it [prostate cancer]," Simons said.

The Barber shop campaign has encouraged 10 thousand men to get screened. From these screenings, 50 cases of prostate cancer were detected.

The Barber shop initiative has been so successful in creating a buzz about prostate health that it has now spread internationally to shops in India and Australia.


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