Cancer Outreach Workshop targets African Americans

Focus Is Prevention, Detection, Intervention

Los Angeles, CA ( — Cancer and how the disease disproportionately affects the African American community is the focus of the upcoming event – Cancer Outreach Workshop: Prevention, Detection, Intervention, set to take place Sat., March 24, 9 a.m.-12 noon at the Peace Apostolic Church, Inc., 21224 South Figueroa in Carson, CA.

The workshop, which will include on-site mammogram screenings at no cost to participants, is free and open to the public.

Presented by the California Oncology Research Institute (CORI), in partnership with The Global Wellness Project, four doctors, all cancer specialists, will participate in discussions on not only the various cancers (colon, breast, prostate and general oncology), but also on prevention, detection and intervention. A question/answer session will follow.

Scheduled to speak are Dr. Ronald Hurst and Dr. Anton Bilchik, directors of CORI, as well as Dr. Jenny Ru and Dr. Thomas Johnson.

Dr. Bilchik, co-founder and Medical Director for CORI, said he started CORI because he saw a need. “I realized that we were presenting our cancer research around the world hoping to improve standards for cancer care, however this information was not getting to the people that needed it the most – underserved people particularly in the inner city,” he says. “I also realized that so many of these people are only 20 minutes from where I live.”

Bilchik, who has been honored by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Surgeons, added that there are disparities with just about every cancer.

“The outcomes in African Americans is worse for breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreas and stomach cancer to name but a few,” said Bilchik, who was recently listed as one of “Americas Top Surgeons” for 10 years in a row. “This is likely due to socioeconomic differences and lack of access to health care.”

Dr. Hurst said he designed the program with a primary focus of getting cancer information to the community.

“We do four workshops a year. Breast, colon and prostate are the three cancers we focus on,” said Hurst, the Director of Clinical Research for CORI. We use community venues to reach out to a broad cross section of Los Angeles and nearby cities. We want to make it easy for everyone to get the information.”

Hurst, F.A.C.S., specializes in breast, colorectal, melanoma, and sarcoma cancers as well as general surgery. A leader in his field, his research has focused on tumor immunology.

Hurst, who is also partnered with the United States Military Cancer Institute, emphasized that getting the word out about prevention, detection and intervention is crucial.

“The African American community should know not to be afraid,” said Hurst. “Fear becomes our greatest obstacle. Men don’t come because we think we’re invincible. As doctors, in our best state we provide reactionary medicine. We need to get ahead of cancer. We’ve got to get to the people before they get cancer.”

Hurst’s and Bilchik’s colleagues agree.

“There are about 250,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in this country each year,” said Dr. Thomas Johnson, an urologist since 1987. “About 20 percent are African American. Historically prostate cancer has been more aggressive in the African American community. Our charge is to try to get Black men to get screened. For some reason Black men are reluctant to get involved in the preventive aspects of their health. If nothing is bothering a guy, they don’t want to be bothered.”

Statistics show that minorities experience higher rates of illness and death from not only various cancers, but also health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, hepatitis B and obesity.

“Educating people about prevention is so important,” said Dr. Jenny Ru, an internist, hematologist and oncologist. “Prevention is the most important thing you can do. We have to make the public aware of that. When it’s detected early, it is treatable. You can survive. It’s about saving lives. Healthy lifestyles need to be emphasized. We can be our own doctors if we are aware of our bodies. Be aware of your diet and get some exercise. I also think the church has to be involved. The church is very important, especially in the African American community. It is great when they have health-related programs.”

Dr. Bilchik said CORI is committed to ending the health disparities in the minority population.

“Some of the ways we’re going to accomplish this is by engaging the community and teaching prevention and early detection,” said Bilchik, Ph.D., F.A.C.S. Chief of Medicine at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Health Center and Professor of Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “It’s also about providing psychosocial support to patients and families dealing with cancer and providing educational material that can be easy to understand. We’re going to provide options for access to healthcare and generate funds for free preventative services such as mammography.”

“The Global Wellness Project (GWP) is pleased to partner with CORI to bring life saving cancer education to our community,” said Angela de Joseph, GWP executive director. “We are committed to bringing the highest quality of health education and free screenings into the African American and Latino communities. We have partnered with CORI, one of the foremost leaders in cancer research, to produce a series of dynamic cancer awareness workshops to faith-based organizations throughout the Southern California region.”

CORI, a non-profit, is committed to curing cancer through innovative research, early detection, novel treatments, and education through community outreach efforts.

Dr. Ronald Hurst is now available for interviews.

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Photo Caption: Dr. Ronald Hurst and Dr. Anton Bilchik, CORI Medical Directors