Purdue Helps Barbers Talk Prostate Cancer

Program Aimed At Starting Conversation Among Friends

Purdue University is teaming up with local barbers to get the word out about prostate cancer, particularly in the black community.

The Purdue University Center for Cancer Research is working with 70 area barbers on how to talk to clients about the importance of getting screened.

"They have conversations that are frank and open, and they span various topics, so why not put prostate cancer into the topics and the repertoire of the things they are talking about?" said program coordinator Teasa Thompson.

Each year, about 33,000 men die from prostate cancer. Black men are hit especially hard by the disease.

"They have higher incidents rates of prostate cancer. They're 1 1/2 times more to develop the disease and they're 2 1/2 times more likely to die from the disease," said cancer center director Timothy Ratliff.

Because barbers and their clients are typically friends, program organizers said they hope getting the conversation started there will inspire men who are 40 years and older to get tested.

"It's not an intrusion for a barber to suggest to his customer, who is also his friend, 'Hey, have you been tested?'" said barber Gregory Kenny.

Kenny, who owns several barber shops and Kenny's Academy of Barbering, lost a friend to prostate cancer. He's been an advocate for the program.

"We're really getting the word out the best way we can," he said. "If we could knowingly save one life, then it's worth it."

The program goal is to involve all barber shops in Marion County, where prostate cancer rates are the highest in the state, and expand from there.

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