Football legends star in cancer awareness effort

NEW ORLEANS: The American Urological Association Foundation is using former National Football League stars to drum up awareness about prostate cancer before the Super Bowl.

NEW ORLEANS: The American Urological Association Foundation is using former National Football League stars to drum up awareness about prostate cancer in the week before the Super Bowl.

Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Haynes, Marcus Allen, and Harry Carson are engaging in an intensive media-outreach schedule this week as part of the “Know Your Stats” campaign.

At least 50 radio, TV, and print interviews are planned, according to Heather Gartman, EVP of healthcare in Ruder Finn's Washington office. Her firm has overseen the campaign since its 2009 launch.

This year, the campaign changed its messaging in two ways. First, the American Urological Association is no longer automatically encouraging men age 40 and older to get routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing. Instead, it is emphasizing that men should reflect on their family's history with cancer to gauge potential risk.

The foundation also wants people to consider their own age and health history, as well as if they are African-American, which means they face a one-in-three chance of being diagnosed.

The changes came after the US Preventive Services Task Force's May 2012 recommendation that men of all ages should no longer be screened for prostate cancer by undergoing the PSA blood test. It found that screening results were leading to over-diagnosis of prostate cancer and unnecessary treatment that was leaving men impotent and incontinent.

In the instance that men still want a PSA test, the AUA is suggesting they get a physical prostate exam known as a digital rectal exam to ensure the accuracy of a cancer diagnosis.

Overall, the American Urological Association is working to ensure that men continue to understand the value of preventive colon health following the task force's recommendations.

“We don't want people to ignore it,” Gartman said. “If prostate cancer is detected early, there is a nearly 100% survival rate.”

The second major change to the campaign is the promotion of a pledge that asks signees to know their own risk or encourage men over age 40 to do so. It also asks that people talk to their doctors about colon cancer testing, encourage other people to do so, commit to raising awareness of the disease, and support prostate cancer research.

The pledge “is a great way to raise awareness considering all the people prostate cancer touches,” said Cynthia Duncan, director of development at AUA. “The pledge also has the potential to go viral.”

The campaign also includes a website and Facebook and Twitter pages.

Last June, the AUA also launched a campaign with RF to raise awareness of Overactive Bladder.

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