Rutgers CINJ Experiences Strong Turnout at Annual Prostate Screening Event

For the 18th consecutive year, the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) and its affiliated hospital, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, offered free prostate screenings and education sessions for three nights last week in an effort to serve those without health insurance and spread awareness about prostate cancer.

On Sept. 15, 16, and 17, the Rutgers CINJ offered digital rectal exams and a prostate-specific antigen blood test, as well as educational sessions about prostate cancer. The event was open to all New Jersey males over the age of 40, including those without health insurance. Because the CINJ is located in a low-income community like New Brunswick, the institute said they make a concerted effort to promote the free prostate screenings to the local community.

“We promote the event heavily through traditional and social media, as well as through our community partners.  For instance, local clergy and municipal and business leaders serve as ‘ambassadors’ in encouraging their respective constituencies to attend and become better educated about their prostate health,” Merced said in an email interview. “Men come from all over the state to attend the event, although we find that large groups of men are from the New Brunswick and Franklin areas.”

The institute estimates it has tested thousands of patients over the last 17 years in recognition of National Prostate Awareness Month. This year the program experienced another strong turnout with more than 300 men registering for it and an additional handful of men showing up as walk-ins.

“This collective support from our community leaders resonates with these men and has resulted in them coming to the event on a consistent basis,” said Mariam Merced, director of the RWJ Community Health Promotion Program, in a news release about the event from the CINJ. “As a result, these men bring family and friends, enabling us to offer both the screening service and vital information about prostate health to a much broader population.”

According to the American Cancer Society(ACS), about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lives, making it the most common cancer developed among men. Furthermore, of those diagnosed with prostate cancer 1 in 38 will die as a result of it, making it the second leading cause of cancer death for men in America behind lung cancer.

The ACS reported that the average age of men when they are first diagnosed with prostate cancer is 66 and the chance of getting diagnosed rapidly increases after the age of 50. Even with that being said the ACS, along with cancer specialists at the CINJ, says that it is up to each man individually when they decide to begin screening for prostate cancer.

“An appropriate age to begin prostate cancer screening is a conversation each individual man should have with his doctor, as it can be different for every man,” said Sammy E. Elsamra, who is an urologic oncologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and also led the clinical component of the Prostate Cancer Education and Screening Program, in an email interview. “For instance, a man with a family history of prostate cancer may be encouraged to start screening at an earlier age.”