A Network of Equal Partnerships to Solve Inequality of Risks

The global burden of prostate cancer in men of African descent is the focus of a landmark collaborative conference organized by Folakemi Odedina, Ph.D., a professor in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, and University of Florida Health Science Center researchers. Leaders from the College of Medicine, the College of Pharmacy, Prostate Net and the 100 Black Men of Jacksonville,Inc. joined together in August to host the first “The Science of Global Prostate Cancer Disparities in Black Men” conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

Odedina, center, meets with health-care colleagues and orgainizers to plan the first global conference on prostate cancer disparities

Prostate cancer is the most significant cancer to disproportionately affect black men in the United States and Jamaica. In the United States, the average annual prostate cancer incidence rate was 59 percent higher and the mortality rate was 2.4 times higher for black men than white men between 2001 and 2005, organizers say.

“We must find a way to end the disparity,” Odedina said. “Today, being a black male is one of the three primary, non-modifiable risk factors confirmed for prostate cancer. We, as scientists and researchers, owe it to the community to find answers and therefore solutions.”

The conference, made possible by a grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute, is expected to become a biennial event. The inaugural theme, “Bridging Gaps through Research, Education, and Outreach Worldwide,” will feature delegates from North America, South America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, who will share their latest findings in the cause, prevention, intervention and survival of prostate cancer.

Director of community outreach at the UF Prostate Disease Center, Odedina is an expert in prostate cancer and tireless in efforts to promote prevention and early detection behaviors among black men. She also is committed to the idea of equal partnership between communities and academic institutions to eliminate prostate cancer disparities.

“The problem of health inequality for prostate cancer is a situation that no physician should be satisfied with,” said Johannes W. Vieweg, M.D., FACS, chair of the UF department of urology. “In Florida, we have established a Prostate Disease Center with a vision of building a collaborative network of programs that leverage the tremendous advances of biomedical research for the improvement of prostate cancer care, research and education.”

Levi H. McIntosh Jr., Ed.D, vice president of operations for 100 Black Men of Jacksonville, Inc., saw the conference as an opportunity for exchange — the scientific community will share its research and findings, and the general community will share its collective experiences, thoughts and feelings.

“Both sides have enormous information to offer, and I am confident that together, we can fight this disease and the disparity as one,” McIntosh said. Odedina and her team continue their fight to find solutions. She is wrapping up a new study that breaks down the prostate cancer risk factors among black men born in the United States and those born in African nations or the Caribbean who now live in the United States. She presented early findings on Oct 1 at the Third American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved.

To register for the conference, please go to: http://conferences.dce.ufl.edu/gpc/ , or call University of Florida Conference Department, at 352.392.1701.