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Louisiana doctors seek answers about prostate cancer in black men

New Orleans is one of only seven places in the U.S. chosen to be part of the major study

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana doctors are looking for African-American men who have had prostate cancer to help with a new and potentially groundbreaking study. 

New Orleans is one of only seven places in the U.S. chosen to be part of a major study to figure out why the illness is so aggressive in African-American men.

Marvin Turner served as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, and at 71, has always made sure he checks his health with regular prostate exams at the VA clinic. 

A few years ago, the diagnosis was prostate cancer, but there was a silver lining: It had not spread. 

"Yes it was a very good relief," Turner said.

He turned immediately to his two brothers for advice on treatment. They've also had prostate cancer.  

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"I decided to have mine removed. I had a conversation with my wife explaining to her the effects of it, but my life is more important," he said about the possible complications that sometimes happen after surgery. 

But again, Marvin decided to serve others both from the pulpit as a preacher, sharing the importance prostate exams, and by joining the largest study across the U.S. on why African-American men have a higher rate of prostate cancer, why it shows up at a younger age and is more aggressive, especially in Louisiana.  

"African-American men are dying from prostate cancer and we don't know what the correlation is. Is it stress?" said Dr. Denise Johnson

Medical Adviser for the Louisiana Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program and the Co-Investigator of the RESPOND study at LSU Health Sciences Center.  

Joining the study at LSU Health is simple. You have a confidential questionnaire that looks into past lifestyle, and there's a container for some of your saliva. All you do is mail both of those in. 

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"This may not benefit them immediately you know, but it's to help generations going forward, said  Johnson. 

"I thought that it would be beneficial for me to participate because it would help someone else," said Turner. 

He is hoping it helps his 'brothers' in the Marines, and the many families like his, where so many have to face a cancer diagnosis together.

The study is open to all African-American men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer any time from 2010 to 2018.

It's free and and can be done at your home. You will be compensated with a $50 gift card. For more info, call 504-568-5848 or click here.

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