Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Symposium on 'pros and cons' of screening to be held Sept. 15 at USC

Aug. 22, 2011



A Sept. 15 symposium at USC will feature Dr. Richard Ablin, who discovered the prostate specific antigen (PSA), and Dr. Oliver Sartor, the principal investigator for pivotal clinical trials for two of the most recently discovered treatments for prostate cancer

A symposium on the "Pros and Cons of Prostate Cancer Screening" Thursday, Sept. 15, at the University of South Carolina will feature two of the nation's leading experts on prostate cancer.

Dr. Richard Ablin, who discovered the prostate specific antigen (PSA), and Dr. Oliver Sartor, the principal investigator for pivotal clinical trials for two of the most recently discovered treatments for prostate cancer, will be guest speakers for the event at 3 p.m. in USC's Russell House Theater.

The symposium also will be held on Friday, Sept. 16, at the Hollings Cancer Center of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

The USC program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by USC's Arnold School of Public Health and the Cancer Prevention and Control Program, the South Carolina College of Pharmacy, and the South Carolina Center for Economic Excellence (CoEE) in Medication Safety and Efficacy. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance and USC's Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities and College of Pharmacy at USC are also promoting this event.

Other speakers for the Columbia symposium will include event organizer Dr. Charles Bennett, who holds the endowed chair of the Medication Safety and Efficacy Center of Economic Excellence (CoEE); Johnny Payne, an award-winning prostate cancer community educator with UsTOO; urologist Dr. Stan Greenberg of Columbia; internist Dr. Allan Brett, a USC School of Medicine faculty member; and Dr. Abe Wandersman, a professor in USC's department of psychology.

"These events will initiate an important statewide discussion between the community and researchers about prostate cancer screening in South Carolina," said Dr. Daniela Friedman, assistant professor in health promotion, education, and behavior.

Dr. James Hébert, director of USC's Cancer Prevention and Control Program, said that "understanding the role of PSA testing in detecting prostate cancer and making informed treatment decisions are among the top challenges in cancer control."

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer among men. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate has the lowest mortality rate of any common cancer. However, African-American men in South Carolina have a prostate cancer death rate that is about 2.5 times that of European-American men and about 50 percent higher than African Americans for the country as a whole. Current guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend that men make an informed decision with their provider about whether to get screened.

Ablin, a research professor of immunobiology and pathology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, discovered the PSA in 1970. By the late 1980s, testing PSA levels became an accepted method of screening for prostate cancer. But last year, after several large cohort studies showed no survival advantage for men who are screened aggressively and some evidence that early detection caused additional harmful side effects, Ablin wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times that PSA testing had resulted in some men receiving "unnecessary and debilitating treatment" for prostate cancer.

Sartor, the medical director of the Tulane Cancer Center, is the Bernadine Laborde Professor of Cancer Research in the departments of medicine and urology at the Tulane University School of Medicine. He is an internationally renowned cancer researcher and is highly regarded for his expertise in treating patients with advanced prostate cancer. He is the lead investigator for two of the most important breakthroughs in prostate cancer treatment, both discovered in the last year.

For more information, contact Dr. Daniela Friedman, 803-777-9933, in the Arnold School of Public Health or Ms. Shalish Jones, 803-777-2289, in the SC College of Pharmacy.

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