Separate PSA Test Guidelines for High Risk and Average Risk Men Needed

November 6, 2013

Thomas A. Farrington, at PHEN's 2012 SummitProstate cancer early detection testing using the PSA test is one of the most controversial subjects in medicine today. This on-going controversy is not good for men who depend on their doctors to provide clear guidance for their prostate health. As a prostate cancer survivor and patient advocate I sometimes sense a lack of urgency to seek solutions to this controversy which is leaving patients confused and at times frantic about what to do. Make no mistake, these patients’ decisions will translate into life or death calls for some, and they deserve clear guidance.

I believe that leaders within the prostate cancer medical profession must work towards ending the PSA test controversy by embracing what is known and accepted while continuing to seek answers for the unknown. During the past two years we have witnessed the widespread acceptance of the concept of prostate cancer overtreatment and active surveillance, along with guidance to discontinue PSA testing for older men with a limited life expectancy. In my view this represents progress towards ending the controversy.

Another area of widespread acceptance is that African American and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at high risk for being diagnosed with the disease, and that African American men die at a rate 2.5 times greater than other men with prostate cancer. It is also well known and accepted by expert researchers in the field that these high risk men were not included in significant numbers within the randomized clinical trials that are the genesis for the ongoing controversy. It is well accepted that these high risk men have a great need for clear guidance on early detection testing. PHEN has taken steps to address this need.

PHEN’s “Consensus Statement on PSA Testing for African American Men for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer” was presented at its “Annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit” on September 18th, 2013. This consensus statement is based on the “expert opinion” of the twenty three (23) prostate cancer medical experts who are signatories on it. Using this consensus statement PHEN has now published “Guidance on Early Detection Testing for Prostate Cancer for High-Risk Men” that can be clearly understood by laymen. PHEN’s Consensus Statement and Guidance targets African American and other high-risk men. However, PHEN was not the first organization to recognize the need, and take steps, to separate prostate cancer early detection guidance for average-risk and high-risk men.

The American Urological Association (AUA) released its updated early detection guidelines on May 3, 2013 with this statement: “It is important to note that the guideline statements listed in this document target men at average risk , defined as men without risk factors such as family history of prostate cancer in multiple generations and/ or family history of early onset below the age of 55 years, or African American.”

It is important to note that both the AUA and PHEN saw the need to separate their early detection guidance for the exact same reason; a lack of scientific evidence from the PSA screening trials for African American and other high-risk men. The AUA however, stopped short of providing any direct guidance for high-risk men. PHEN, on the other hand relied upon expert opinion to formulate its guidance; the only option available in the absence of scientific evidence. It is only responsible and humane to provide clear and direct guidance to the men most likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer. A failure to do so I consider gross negligence.

Widespread adoption of separate guidance for high-risk and average-risk men for prostate cancer early detection testing is clearly needed. In addition, this step will help end the ongoing controversy that currently engulfs us all. Towards these objectives I call upon the AUA, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, U. S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Cancer Society, State Cancer Control Commissions, and Prostate Cancer Patient Education and Advocacy Organizations to embrace PHEN’s Consensus Statement for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer for African American and other High Risk Men.

PHEN Celebrates Ten Years!

February 6, 2013

This year PHEN is celebrating its Ten Year Anniversary! We have been on an exciting and productive journey during our first decade while paving a road for the future.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, alongside Congressman Gregory Meeks, stand in support of the fight against Prostate Cancer. Rev. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, speaks in favor of raising awareness for Prostate Cancer and the racial disparity among African American men.

Over Ten Years of outstanding work in the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and founded PHEN in 2003 to increase awareness and knowledge about prostate cancer within Black America which suffers an alarming 140% higher death rate than for all other men. There is a widespread void of knowledge and actions needed to address this deadly crisis.

PHEN’S first ten years has been dedicated to mobilizing a series of national initiatives aimed at filling this void. These initiatives are achieving impressive results and PHEN is now widely recognized as a leader in prostate cancer patient education and advocacy efforts. We celebrate PHEN’s accomplishments with a great sense of progress and excitement, and with a strong foundation of enduring and proven initiatives on which to enhance and expand our efforts for the work that still lies ahead.

PHEN Milestones and Initiatives (Click to Read) 

My sincerest appreciations to the many that supported PHEN, making our first decade possible and successful. Throughout 2013 PHEN will celebrate its ten year anniversary with ACTIONS as we continue executing our initiatives, collectively known as the “Rally Against Prostate Cancer.”
I invite you to celebrate with us by joining our rally and continuing your support of PHEN to help shape a future for all men absent prostate cancer.

Yours truly,

Thomas A. Farrington

Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials – A New Day for Patients

November 8, 2012

Today prostate cancer patients with advanced disease have three relative new treatments available that improve overall survival. Provenge, Zytiga and Xtandi have all been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past two years. These treatments represent significant progress for patients who for years had only chemotherapy to rely upon following hormone therapy. But the good news does not stop here.
Thomas A. Farrington, at PHEN's 2012 Summit
There are an increasing number of clinical trials using these “FDA approved” treatments. Importantly, these clinical trials are not experimental and seeking to prove the effectiveness and safety for these treatments. Effectiveness and safety were determined for each as part of the FDA approval process. Instead many of these trials are studies to better understand the treatments’ level of effectiveness relative to parameters such as stages of disease, genetic factors, in combination with other treatments, etc.

In most instances men participating in these trials are able to receive treatment with these expensive drugs for no cost and no increased risk. Clinical trials using these new treatments represent a new day for prostate cancer patients, especially for those that cannot afford these treatments.

It is important for African American men, who are at a higher risk for needing treatment for advanced disease, to participate in these trials to help better understand how these treatments can impact on eliminating the prostate cancer epidemic that we now suffer. Also, in some cases these trials will remove the access barrier that some men face.

PHEN will continue to highlight and focus on important clinical trials to insure that the men most impacted by prostate cancer are knowledgeable and have the opportunity to participate in this exciting new day for patients.

Remember, knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer.

Opportunities for Early Access to New Treatments

June 27, 2012

Rapid advances in the development of treatments for advanced prostate cancer are creating some unique opportunities for access to these treatments at no cost to patients under “Early/Expanded Access Programs.”

PHEN President, Thomas A. Farrington

These opportunities become available when phase 3 clinical trial results are proven effective and the trials are halted. However, there is still a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process that companies must complete before these proven treatments can be “marketed” to the public. This process takes many months before it is completed.

I serve as a member of a committee called “The Early/Expanded Access Program for Prostate Cancer Patients.” This committee advocates for early access to those treatments that have completed the phase 3 clinical trial and awaits final FDA approval. This is information about the committee and its purpose.

We are pleased and excited that Astellas/Medivation has made MDV3100 (Enzalutamide), and Bayer has made Radium-223 Chloride (Alpharadin) available under the early access program. Both these treatments are for “advanced prostate cancer patients.” Information about each is included in the June Treatments and Clinical Trials e-newsletter.

These early access program opportunities are especially appealing to those patients that have urgent needs, and also for patients who may have difficulties in affording these treatments once they receive final FDA approval. I urge advanced prostate cancer patients to review the information on each of the treatments to determine if there could be a personal benefit.

Faith and the Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer

May 7, 2012

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the year 2000 and still I remember vividly that day and my doctor’s words: “you have prostate cancer.” The shock and fear of facing a disease that had taken the lives of my father and both grandfathers was a heavy psychological burden to bear. Working with many other men who have faced prostate cancer, this burden seems universal and managing the emotional stress becomes an urgent need for men and their families.

PHEN President, Thomas A. Farrington

Summoning the inner strength to lift this pressing psychological burden and make decisions about treatment was a major challenge for me, as it is for most men. I turned to my Christian faith through prayer to find the strength to face prostate cancer, and throughout my twelve years as a survivor my faith has been the bedrock in meeting my survivorship challenges.

PHEN’s Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer in partnership with institutions of faith connects men and families who are facing prostate cancer, managing survivorship issues, or have lost a loved one to this disease. Through the power of prayer and spiritual fellowship their isolation is removed and replaced with open and supportive relationships. The Rally is based on the importance of faith in healing, and this Father’s Day ceremony is proving highly effective in helping to remove many heavy burdens.

The commitment and support of the hundreds of churches that have joined the Father’s Day Rally since its launching in 2009 has transformed the Rally into a dynamic national movement that is part of the healing process for many thousands across our country. I sincerely thank the leadership of these churches and I salute those survivors who are working within their churches to help facilitate the Father’s Day Rally. These survivors are true faith disciples for their courage to stand up and speak about their personal experiences to outreach and help others. There are many pastors of our partnering churches who are themselves survivors and while these faith leaders are very impactful within their own churches, some are assuming the added responsibility of recruiting other churches to our efforts.

While I am excited with our progress, there is much left for us to accomplish through our joining hands in prayer and action. Prostate cancer is a devastating disease, especially among Black men. The need for healing is tremendous and I know that faith has a great role in reducing suffering and saving lives. The Father’s Day Rally Against Prostate Cancer puts this into action.

Farrington Radio Interview with Dr. Luke Nordquist

February 20, 2012

Thomas A. Farrington, PHEN President and Founder, discusses the Impact of Prostate Cancer and PHEN’s efforts to increase knowledge about the disease, with Dr. Luke Nordquist, Urology Cancer Center, Omaha, NE, on the Radio Show “Cancer Opinions with Dr. Luke.”

               Prostate Cancer and the Impact on African American Men with Thomas A. Farrington

Dr. Luke Nordquist and Thomas A. Farrington - Click to Listen to Interview

Information, Knowledge, and a Cure for Prostate Cancer in 2012

January 8, 2012

The pursuit of a “cure for cancer” is the objective of research efforts in many of the leading cancer research centers throughout the world today. However, how will we know when a cure for cancer has been found? Will cancer as a disease disappear completely because a “magic bullet” has been identified to eliminate all types of cancers? Will new treatments eliminate

deaths from certain types of cancers and be defined as cures? The answers to these and similar questions are important in shaping the public’s understanding about cures for cancer. However, based on what I understand about ongoing research efforts there will probably be multiple forms of cancer cures that will differ based on the type of cancer, the patient and the definition(s) of cure. 

What is the definition for a cure for prostate cancer, and do we have a cure entering 2012? 

There is no magic bullet cure today that I am aware of which will prevent a man from getting prostate cancer. There are promising research and study efforts underway to reduce a man’s risk for the disease which at some time in the future may approach a magic bullet cure for some. Also, there is an accelerating pace of new classes of prostate cancer treatments under development aimed at increasing survival and the quality of life for those men living with the disease; some have already been approved by the Federal Drug Administration,

If an accepted definition for a prostate cancer cure is survival after a diagnosis with minimal to no impact on a man’s quality of life then there are cures for the disease as we enter 2012. These cures may at times involve multiple combinations of treatments and therapies and differ from man to man. I consider my personal eleven year prostate cancer survival to be within this definition of cure. Conversely, I believe that the vast majority of prostate cancer deaths and sufferings today are due to a lack of information and knowledge about accessing the cures available in a timely manner. Information and knowledge about one’s risk level, early detection, treatment options, and managing survivorship issues are critically important to a cure for prostate cancer in 2012. For a man not to have this knowledge is to play Russian roulette with his prostate.

The journey for reaching a prostate cancer cure where there is no magic bullet available can be complex, but certainly navigable. As we enter 2012 PHEN continues to broaden its educational outreach to assist men and their families along this journey. We will augment our monthly live webcasts which began in January, 2011 with a monthly e-newsletter highlighting information about available treatments and clinical trials. Many of our sponsors and partners are at the forefront in providing new and innovative treatments, therapies and detection tools that will be part of the focus of our educational outreach efforts. 

Knowledge is the best defense against prostate cancer in 2012. PHEN and its partners are committed to reducing prostate cancer deaths and suffering by increasing the overall knowledge base about the disease and the approaches to cures and survivorship. Our information is aimed at men and their families as we emphasize the importance of wives, mothers, sisters and daughters becoming actively involved in the prostate health of the men in their lives. Prostate cancer is a disease that impacts the entire family and in many (perhaps most) cases family members are needed to support a man’s efforts to become knowledgeable and interface with his doctors. PHEN invites you to use our online resources available to you at your convenience, tune in to our monthly webcasts, and study the information presented in our e-newsletters to increase your knowledge. Join our efforts to help cure prostate cancer cases in 2012 with the health of your family as a primary goal.

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