State number one in prostate cancer mortality

Published 11:00 pm Monday, September 3, 2012

The University of Alabama was number one in football in 2009 and again in 2011. Auburn University was number one on the nation’s college gridiron in 2010. The State of Alabama takes great pride in that.

However, the state can’t take pride in its most recent number one ranking.

Alabama is the number one state, per capita, in prostate cancer mortality among African Americans.

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“We certainly can’t take pride in that,” said Dr. Michael Vincent Bivins, urologist with the Urology Centers of Alabama based in Birmingham.

“The high prostate cancer mortality rate among Africa Americans can be attributed to several factors, including genetics, environment, education and socio-economic conditions. But, the failure to have simple prostate cancer screenings is a major contributing factor because early detection saves lives.”

Gov. Robert Bentley has proclaimed September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Alabama.

Bivins attended the proclamation signing and expressed appreciation to the governor for helping to bring awareness to the importance of prostate cancer screenings.

“At Urology Centers and on the state level, we are working to bring greater awareness to prostate cancer and to educate men on the importance of the screenings,” Bivins said. “In 2006, Urology Centers began going across the state offering free prostate cancer screenings.

The Center has conducted three free screenings here in Pike County, my home county.”

Bivins said Urology Centers of Alabama has conducted free prostate cancer screenings in 20 counties, many of them in the Black Belt.
“We go back to these counties once a year,” he said.

“We’ll be back in Pike County in April or May. More than 4,500 free screenings have been done since we began in 2006.”

The higher the number of prostate cancer screenings that are done, the lower the mortality rate, Bivins said.

“We recommend 40 as the age to begin the screenings and then have annual screenings.

Ask the men who have been cured of prostate cancer and they will tell you that it all started with the screenings.”

One in six Americans will have prostate cancer. The numbers are even more alarming among African Americans, one in four.

September has been designated by the governor as a month-long prostate cancer awareness campaign. Fundraising events will be held across the state.

A Prostate Cancer Run will be held at Talladega Motor Speedway on Sept. 16.

The event will include a half marathon, a 5K run and a fun run/walk honoring survivors.

“These events bring awareness to prostate cancer. Increased awareness translates into more screenings and more screenings save lives,” Bivins said.