Health Beat

Health Beat: Prostate cancer: Race matters

DURHAM, N.C. - Known as Hugh "muddy waters" Hargett on the football field back in college, this now-grandfather had trouble tackling the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

"I couldn't eat," Hugh said. "I probably lost about 45 or 50 pounds."

"One in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime," shared Dr. Daniel George, a professor of medicine and surgery at Duke Cancer Institute.

George said even though there's been a decrease in prostate cancer cases, too many lives are still being lost.

"Death from prostate cancer is at an all-time high - 29,000 deaths a year in the United States," George continued.

He said African-Americans are at a greater risk for developing the disease.

"And they are at a 2-1/2 times greater risk of dying from prostate cancer," George said. "Should we be treating these patients differently?"

Researchers at Duke Cancer Institute studied both African-American and Caucasian patients, treating both groups with a drug called Abiraterone.

"We saw a better response in the African-American population then the Caucasian population," George exclaimed.

Now, they want to understand genetically why these patients do better.

"Can we use that information to treat them even earlier and maybe cure some of these guys?" George continued.

Hargett has been on the chemotherapy drug for two years and found out his cancer is in complete remission.

"It's a really fantastic response and I'm very happy for you," George said. "Thank the Lord."

Now, he believes it is possible to beat cancer, but he knows there are no guarantees.

"I'd never thought I'd be here today," Hargett said.

George said it's not the skin color that's important. It's the genes associated with skin color that can affect treatment response.

Hargett will continue to stay on the chemotherapy, even though that study has concluded.

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Allentown, PA 18102


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