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A different kind of recruiting

Groups will visit game to get men to get screened for cancer

Members of two local organizations will spread out across Western Tidewater this weekend in an effort to get men to take advantage of free cancer screenings on Sept. 19.

The effort is a partnership between the Alpha Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the Suffolk Chapter of the Links Inc.

They will be at the King’s Fork High School home football game Friday to tell men about the opportunity, said Dr. Victor Archie, a radiation oncologist at Sentara Obici Hospital and a member of the Omegas.

On Saturday, the groups will visit barbershops across Western Tidewater in an effort to get more men to come to the screenings.

“We’re trying to effect some change here and reach some populations we normally don’t get to,” Archie said.

The reason for the focus, Archie said, is the high rate of deaths from certain types of cancers in Western Tidewater. The area leads the state in colon cancer mortality. For prostate cancer, it is No. 2, behind only Portsmouth.

Both cancers are highly treatable if they are caught early, Archie said.

“Both of these malignancies have very high and successful cure rates, because they have screening detection that allows us to pick these up at their earliest,” Archie said.

But Western Tidewater has a very high rate of men presenting late with these cancers, which contributes to the high mortality rate.

“The horse is already out of the barn, and we don’t have a lot of options at that point,” Archie said. “That’s why our focus is trying to get these men screened as early as possible.”

The reasons for Western Tidewater’s high mortality rate for these cancers are multi-faceted, Archie said. It is a large, mostly rural region, which affects access to care.

“There’s probably some kind of genetic component,” Archie added, “because the rates for the population far exceed what you would expect.”

The partnership with the Sentara Cancer Network will allow 100 men to be screened for these two cancers for free on Sept. 19.

The event will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sentara Obici Hospital, 2800 Godwin Blvd., in the Garden Level classrooms. Dr. Mark Fleming, a medical oncologist, will speak, and dinner will also be served.

All are welcome, but only men ages 40 and over will be screened. It is best if they pre-register, so they can be assured of receiving the screening.

Archie said men can either receive the prostate and colorectal screening at the same time, or they can take home the “FIT” test for the colorectal screening and mail it in.

“We’re going to encourage them to do it on the spot,” Archie said.

Archie said men are encouraged to call and register, even if they don’t encounter the groups at the King’s Fork game or at a barbershop on Saturday morning.

“It’s a new, out-of-the-box approach to try to address these issues,” Archie said of the outreach effort.

Call 934-4791 for more information or to register.