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Penn Medicine News: Bringing Care to Communities: Penn Medicine Partnerships Aim to Decentralize Cancer Screenings

From Penn Medicine News: Leroy Miles has somewhere to be. In fact, he has about a dozen places to be, but in speaking with him, the Associate Pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church projects equal parts calm and confidence to pair with the urgency of the event where he is…everywhere, from greeting community members to kicking off a panel discussion on clinical trials.    The Know Your Numbers event, a mixture that Reverend Miles lovingly refers to as “part man cave, part fellowship event” is packed with activities that “most of these guys would be doing on a Saturday, anyway.” The guys in question are about 1,300 men who worship at Enon, in North Philadelphia, or are connected to the church in some way. They are here to get haircuts, grab lunch, learn about city resources, meet the Philadelphia 76ers mascot and listen to a little music.  They are also getting their recommended health screenings for prostate cancer and kidney disease and engaging in other preventative health measures. The importance is notable as Black men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as their white and Hispanic male counterparts. In addition, African Americans are more than three times as likely and Hispanics or Latinos are and 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to white Americans.  “We were talking about health disparities in the mid-2000s. Black men were at the top of many lists that we should not have been on,” Miles said. “We looked at the issues and realized, ‘they won’t go out.’ But, if we bring the resources to them, they will absolutely take advantage of them.” The event—in its 12th year—is one of many where Penn Medicine has partnered to bring preventative care into communities, reaching outside the walls of hospitals and clinics to offer care in a way that, ideally, gets more care to those who need it.   For Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP, the Ruth C. and Raymond G. Perelman Professor of Medicine, vice chair of Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Medicine, and associate director of Diversity and Outreach for the Abramson Cancer Center, this event is one of many that didn’t start today but in 2020.  “Among the things that closed during the pandemic were cancer screenings, and there was a lot of discussion around the potential to see 10,000 new cancers over the next decade, just from the interruption in breast and colon cancer screenings, alone,” Guerra said. Not much later, Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther, died from complications due to colon cancer—an event that would serve as a marker in the relationship with Rev. Miles.  “There was this sense of fear almost,” Guerra recalled, “that if this person with these resources could die from colorectal cancer, what chance do we stand out here in Northwest Philadelphia?”  Read more at Penn Medicine News.