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Fox Chase Cancer Center's Risk Program Successful in Early Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer; Doubles National Average

PHILADELPHIA (April 26, 1999) -- Doctors and researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have published a study showing the rate of early diagnosis of prostate cancer is double that of the national average. The statistics come from the Center's Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program (PRAP) which is hailed as a model for early detection of prostate cancer.

The PRAP was started in 1996 to develop a prostate cancer screening clinic and registry for the purpose of early detection and treatment of the disease while it is still at a most curable stage. Eligibility includes men age 35 to 69 years at increased risk for prostate cancer. Increased-risk is defined as men with a first degree relative (father, brother, son) diagnosed with prostate cancer, and includes all African-American men. The rate of prostate cancer among African-Americans is double that of Caucasian-American men.

In the first 21 months of operation, from October 1996 to June 1998, accrual has included 101 men (49 Caucasian-American, 52 African-American) at increased risk of prostate cancer.

"There were seven cancers detected in this group of men," explains Deborah Watkins Bruner, Ph.D., director of the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program. "This translates into a 7% cancer detection rate which is twice the national average of cancers detected in men who are not considered at increased risk." All of the cancers were classified clinically significant.

"This study shows how extremely beneficial the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program is in the early diagnosis of the disease," said Gerald Hanks, M.D., founder of PRAP. "It is already established that early diagnosis is key to curing the disease. The Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program allows men to benefit from present and future knowledge about their risks."

Research data gathered after informed consent is also used in studying the genetics of prostate cancer. Understanding what contributes to prostate cancer is especially important to African-Americans, who have the highest rate of this disease in the world. Since prostate cancer is relatively rare among blacks in Africa and other countries, race does not account for the increased risk among black Americans.

"Helping the next generation of men likely to be affected by prostate cancer is a top goal of PRAP," stressed Hanks. "We hope to see programs like the one at Fox Chase Cancer Center develop at institutions nationwide as a means of early detection of prostate cancer."

Prostate Cancer is the most common form of cancer (except skin cancer) in men. According to the American Cancer Society Institute an estimated 184,500 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in 1998, and almost 40,000 men died from the disease.

PRAP is a collaborative effort of multiple disciplines including oncologists, pathologists, genetic counselors, health educators, nurses, nutrition specialists, epidemiologists, and basic scientists.

Men who believe they are at increased risk of prostate cancer may call 215-728-2406 Monday through Friday to see if they or men in their family are eligible for the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research including prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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