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State Grant Awarded to Fox Chase Cancer Center For Prostate Cancer Risk Programs

PHILADELPHIA (September 16, 1999) -- The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has awarded a $449,317 grant to the Fox Chase Cancer Center to set-up prostate cancer family risk registries and Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Programs (PRAP) at the Center's network of hospitals. The participating hospitals include Paoli Memorial Hospital, Pinnacle Health System in Harrisburg and Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill.

The money will help further the mission of PRAP, which provides special screening, education and support for men at high risk of the disease. In general, sons and brothers of white men with prostate cancer and all African American men have a higher than normal risk of prostate cancer.

Hereditary susceptibility has important implications for men. When prostate cancer runs in families, it tends to occur at progressively younger ages and is more aggressive than the slow-growing prostate cancers that typically affect elderly patients.

"Genetic factors clearly have a role in prostate cancer. But researchers have only recently gained the knowledge to start addressing several other specific causes," said Mary B. Daly, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator for the grant. "Some of those causes may include factors like a person's diet, what industrial chemicals or pesticides he's exposed to at work, and if there are other cancer-causing agents he may be exposed to."

Understanding what contributes to prostate-cancer risk is especially important to African Americans, who have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. Since this cancer is relatively rare among blacks in Africa and other countries, racial heredity does not account for black Americans' increased risk.

The Prostate-Cancer Risk-Assessment program is open to men aged 35 to 69 who have an increased risk of prostate cancer because of their family history or because they are African American.

PRAP has three goals:

  1. To provide close monitoring to detect any prostate tumors at the earliest, most curable stage;
  2. To offer clients education about prostate-cancer risks, clustering of cancers within a family and why this occurs (depending on personal risk factors and family history, counseling may include individual dietary advice and recommendations on what age other family members should start prostate-cancer screening);
  3. To help the next generation of men likely to be affected by prostate cancer.

"The men participating will learn how to cope with their increased risk, but we also will learn from them," added Daly. Men will be asked to give a blood sample for research on genetic markers of prostate-cancer risk. Detailed questionnaires about each man's medical history, dietary habits, exposure to industrial chemicals or other environmental hazards and other risk factors will allow researchers to look for patterns that correlate with high or moderate risks of prostate cancer.

The regular monitoring each client will receive starts with a physical examination and blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and continues with periodic screening and medical follow-up.

"The doctors at each hospital are dedicated to making sure that men at increased risk will have 100 percent follow-up," Daly said. "At the same time, these men will be helping to improve screening tools and develop prevention strategies for their own sons and grandsons."

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 and to find a participating hospital near them.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 36 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, 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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