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ZERO’s Prostate Cancer Racial Disparities Task Force

It’s estimated that a quarter of a million men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2021 and over 34,000 will lose their life to this disease. Prostate cancer affects all races, but African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of cases and deaths. Study data shows that access to care issues, racial bias, and distrust in the medical system contribute to these disturbing statistics.

A zoom meeting of ZERO Cancer's Racial Disparities Task Force

With a commitment to bridge the gap between racial and health disparities in prostate cancer among African American men, ZERO has formed a Prostate Cancer Racial Disparities Task Force. Our Task Force includes prostate cancer patients, survivors, physicians, volunteers, and advocates – all with different perspectives and experiences to provide valuable insight and expertise as we take deliberate steps to accomplish our goals. 

“Change has to happen,” said Robert Ginyard, Chairman of ZERO’s Board of Directors and Task Force Co-Chair. “With the recent formation of ZERO’s Prostate Cancer Racial Disparities Task Force, together, we will work to reduce the racial inequities in prostate cancer.”   

The main areas of focus for the Task Force will be to:

  • Increase Disease Awareness and Education – Improve individual disease awareness and knowledge leading to improved access to quality care
  • Advance Community Engagement – Reduce misinformation, stigmas, and cultural and communication barriers around the disease of prostate cancer with cultural competency, community engagement, and support systems
  • Mitigate and Eliminate Barriers – Reduce barriers to prostate cancer care by creating greater access to direct patient services like treatment costs, debt relief, health insurance, and transportation available at no cost from ZERO

Educating men about their increased risk of developing prostate cancer and the importance of screening, is key to an early diagnosis and better health outcome. But many African American men are not getting tested early because they have trouble trusting their medical providers to give them proper care. This lack of trust in the American healthcare system stems from the long history of unethical and discriminatory actions. When asked about the mistrust African American men have in the U.S. medical community, Dr. Kelvin Moses, Task Force Co-Chair and ZERO Board Member explains, “The first thing to understand is that it’s not mistrust. Mistrust indicates that it is somehow misplaced. It is distrust that’s well founded, and there is evidence to prove that.” 

But building trust takes time. Many African American men are reluctant to go to their doctor because “there’s a fear of the healthcare system at large,” shares Dr. Stanley Frencher, Task Force Member. “African American men are walking into their doctor’s offices concerned and are thinking, ‘even if I engage with a physician, will I get the care that someone else would get, someone that doesn’t look like me.’” 

ZERO’s Task Force was formed to help identify barriers such as distrust and fear, and ultimately design solutions for African American men to access quality care. Educating patients and medical professionals is one step in eliminating these racial disparities and helping build trust. To achieve our mission to end prostate cancer, we must also zero out racial disparities in prostate cancer. Every man deserves equal medical access and treatment, and ZERO is committed to make that happen. 

For more information about ZERO’s Prostate Cancer Racial Disparities Task Force and how we are working to eliminate racial disparities in prostate cancer, visit our website.

ZERO’s Prostate Cancer Racial Disparities Task Force participated in our 2021 Prostate Cancer Summit. To learn more about this Task Force and their work to advance racial equity in the prostate cancer community, watch this video of their Town Hall meeting.