By William K. Alcorn
Sporting a mustache and beard as part of the Movember movement, and chuckling ruefully about Man Up Mahoning Valley’s logo — “Don’t Fear the Finger!”— are light-hearted ways of drawing attention to a deadly serious men’s disease: prostate cancer.
During November, Movember uses facial hair as a conversation starter about prostate cancer to raise awareness of the deadly disease.
Other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most-common cancer in American men and the second-leading cause of cancer death behind lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Proceeds from the Movember campaign will stay local with Man Up Mahoning Valley, started in 2010 by Boardman urologist Dr. Daniel J. Ricchiuti and Humility of Mary Health Partners Foundation. Information about Movember and Man Up Mahoning Valley is available by visiting manupmv.com.
Man Up, a nonprofit organization, sponsors the September Blue Ribbon Run for Prostate Cancer Awareness here to support prostate cancer screenings and community education programs to raise awareness of prostate cancer in the Valley.
“We do this to get a simple message across,” said James Schultis, president of the HMHP Foundation. “If you are over 40, talk to your doctor about getting a prostate exam that includes a PSA blood test and a DRE [digital rectal examination]. It’s easy, painless and it could save your life.”
Early detection is the message Man Up and the foundation want to get out to men and their loved ones about the importance of an annual prostate screening in men over 40.
Men are known to not want to talk about prostate problems and examinations until they have experienced it, said Warren Atty. Patrick K. Wilson, a prostate-cancer survivor. It is often left to the women in their lives to push them to have yearly screenings, he said.
When detected early, prostate cancer is a highly treatable and highly curable type of cancer, Dr. Ricchiuti said.
Man Up recommends both a digital rectal examination — hence the logo “Don’t Fear the Finger!” — and a prostate specific antigen blood test be used to screen for prostate cancer.
Dr. Ricchiuti defended the value of the PSA test, which the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said in May should not be routinely used to screen for prostate cancer in men.
“We [Valley urologists] cannot feel more strongly that these recommendations will harm men in our area,” Dr. Ricchiuti said. “We acknowledge that there are some forms of prostate cancer that do not require to be treated ... but to generalize that this disease is nonlethal and does not need to be found early ... is extremely irresponsible and dangerous.”
Also, it is feared that Medicare and private insurers might use the task force’s report as a reason to stop reimbursements for PSA tests.
While PSA is not a perfect test, it is the best currently available. It should be used and should be paid for by Medicare and private insurance companies, Dr. Ricchiuti added.
Wilson, who along with John E. Repula, head of sales and leasing at Klaben Ford Lincoln in Warren, are spearheading the local Movember effort, also strongly disagrees with the task-force conclusion.
“I’m 100 percent in favor of the PSA,” said Wilson, 49, whose aggressive form of prostate cancer was detected in December 2009 by a PSA test. He underwent surgery in April 2010. The cancer had not spread and he remains cancer free.
Dr. Ricchiuti, Wilson’s surgeon, said the PSA test is “absolutely a reliable and cost-effective tool to assist in the detection of prostate cancer. Either the DRE or PSA alone may miss ... certain cancers. That is why the two tests are best when used together.”
In 2011, Wilson recruited members of his law firm, Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, for the Movember campaign and this year hopes to attract more participants.
Last year, Klaben Ford Lincoln owner Mike Klaben pledged $25 to the Movember effort for every car sold in November and has done the same for 2012. The effort raised $2,500 last year, Repula said.
This year, Repula said he is getting other auto dealerships involved in Movember. So far, Apostolakis Honda and Mark Thomas Ford in Cortland and Toyota of Warren are on board. Repula hopes to recruit more this month.
Two Austintown businesses, West Side Merchants and LeMonge Hair Styling, are also promoting and supporting Movember and Man Up Mahoning Valley, and are accepting donations in their stores, campaign officials said.
Donations can be made to Man Up Mahoning Valley by contacting Jonathon Fauvie at the HMHP Foundation at 330-729-1189; via the web at HMpartners.org/foundation; or by mailing a check or money order to HMHP Foundation, 250 DeBartolo Place, Suite 2560, Boardman, OH 44512. Donors should specify that their gift is for Man Up Mahoning Valley.
“We would like men in this area to be exposed to light blue ribbons [the symbol of prostate cancer] and screening messages everywhere they look. We have a Facebook page — Man Up Mahoning Valley — with prostate cancer information, and are we trying to get 300 likes by the end of the year,” Dr. Ricchiuti said.
Man Up’s goal is to one day provide the same level of awareness to prostate cancer on the local level that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure has brought to breast cancer on the national level.