Protecting the Prostate

Health, Home & Family
on August 12, 2010
Courtesy of Patricia Schnably Dr. Sanford Siegel, CEO of Chesapeake Urology Associates, uses mobile medical clinics to offer free prostate cancer screenings to Baltimore men.

Dr. Sanford Siegel, 59, CEO of Chesapeake Urology Associates (CUA) in Baltimore, isnt a runner. But when fellow urologist and marathoner Dr. Sean Van Zijl suggested that CUA sponsor a race to benefit prostate cancer research, Siegel enthusiastically supported the idea. I wrote a proposal, says Van Zijl, and Dr. Siegel just ran with it.

In 2007, Siegel founded the Great Prostate Cancer Challenge (GPCC), a 5K run that raised $135,000 to support prostate cancer research and provide free cancer screenings and education to people in need. Since then, the event has raised more than half a million dollars, and this year, urology practices in 11 other cities, including Nashville, Tenn., and Richmond, Va., will sponsor GPCC races.

Our vision is to do for mens health and prostate cancer what organizations like Susan G. Komen have done for womens health, Siegel says, referring to the organization behind the Race for the Cure events that have raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research.

Some of the money raised by the Baltimore GPCC funds education and outreach, especially in the black community, where the incidence rate for prostate cancer is about 60 percent higher than that of other ethnic groups.

To better reach that community, Siegel and CUA have partnered with Zerothe Project to End Prostate Cancer, to provide free screenings at black churches in Baltimore. Zero provides the mobile medical clinics and CUA provides the staff.

We try to offer man-friendly health care where they can feel comfortable talking about an uncomfortable subject, says Skip Lockwood, CEO of Zero. Even the mobile units have a masculine touch, with leather seats and big-screen TVs.

The free screenings include a blood test and a physical exam of the prostate. Because some of the patients havent seen a doctor in years, the exam itself often offers insight into the patients general health, Lockwood says. For example, a patient might not have prostate cancer but he might have an enlarged prostate. Or a conversation about diet and exercise might lead the doctor to suggest a diabetes test.

The Rev. Hoffman Brown III, pastor of Wayland Baptist Church in Baltimore and a prostate cancer survivor, says about 300 community and church members came to the last prostate cancer screening at Wayland.

Chesapeake Urology and Dr. Siegel are just extraordinary in terms of their reaching out to the African-American community, Brown says. They have a real concern and gift for helping those who would probably not take this matter so seriously to be more conscious about it.

CUA also follows up on its patients and returns to the same churches every year to offer the free screenings. Its a way of building trust in the community, Siegel says. If someone needs but cant afford treatment for prostate cancer, we will treat them for free if we cant find sources to provide funds for treatment, he adds.

Siegel says that his work sponsoring the race and screenings is part of a bigger picture, one that, ideally, will continue long after he steps down from CUA. I feel that what I do every day is a job, but what CUA does in the community is our legacy.