Press Release

September 8, 2005


Announces $300,000 in grants to local health departments to offer
screening and education to highest risk communities

Governor encourages African American men to get screened;
Targets population with highest rate of prostate cancer in the world

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed that, in conjunction with a national awareness campaign, September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer detected in American men, and is the second-leading cause of death within the African American population. The Governor announced $300,000 in state grants will go to public health departments throughout the state for prostate cancer awareness and screening efforts in high risk communities.

“African-American men are dying at a shocking rate from this disease,” said Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “They wait to go and see their doctor, and by the time they do go and are diagnosed with the disease, it is too late. The deadly trend must end. We have distributed grant funds to 10 communities throughout the state in order to promote prostate cancer awareness and screening to men who may be at risk. I encourage every man to research the risk factors associated with this disease and to go see their doctor.”

Prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates among African-American men have reached epidemic proportions. Incident rates are 60 percent higher and mortality rates 140 percent higher than any other racial or ethnic group in our country. Early detection increases a man’s five-year survival rate to 97 percent. Some preventative measures include: following a healthy diet and exercise program, reduce stress, keep alcohol consumption to moderate levels and reduce or stop using tobacco products.

The Illinois Department of Public Health issues grants to local health departments and organizations through the Prostate and Testicular Cancer Program, which began in 1999. The Program will provide close to $300,000 in grants to 10 agencies throughout the state in Fiscal Year 2006. The funds are used to sponsor events, to hold prostate cancer screenings and to produce educational materials focusing on uninsured and underinsured men 50 years of age and older and men 40 and older who fall into the high-risk category. Scientists do not know what causes prostate cancer, but men at higher risk of the disease are those who have family history of prostate cancer and African-American men older than 40 years of age.

“The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “That’s why our agency is focused on making sure men – especially in the African American community – know about the risk and how to make lifestyle changes that can prevent the likelihood of developing the disease.”

The Department has helped fund the White Crane Wellness Center in Cook County, which provides prostate screenings, referrals and education for prostate and testicular cancer for diverse populations in underserved communities. White Crane has served more than 2,000 at-risk men since the program’s inception.

“It has been so gratifying to be a part of a program that can equip male participants with the requisite tools needed to understand and detect disease at an early stage, so that they may sustain their health for as long as possible,” said Ruby Nalzaro, a health outreach nurse at White Crane Wellness Center.

Since 1999, more than 3,500 men have received free health screenings for prostate cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and depression events funded or sponsored by the Department’s prostate and testicular cancer program. Since 2000, the program has reached out through its grantees to more than 15,000 males with health screenings and educational efforts.

The following is the list of grant recipients for Fiscal Year 2006:

Chicago Department of Public Health, $40,000
Evanston Department of Health and Human Services, $7,600
Jackson County Health Department, $35,000
Livingston County Health Department, $20,000
Macon County Health Department, $35,000
Madison County Health Department, $30,000
Research & Education Foundation of the Michael Reese Hospital Medical Staff, $35,000
Southern Seven Health District, $24,000
White Crane Wellness Center, $38,000
Winnebago County Health Department, $25,000

In FY2006, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich has committed $1.2 million for prostate cancer awareness initiatives, $297,000 for prostate cancer screenings, and $200,000 for prostate cancer research. Since taking office, Gov. Blagojevich has enabled the Department to award more than $874,000 in grants to provide prostate cancer and testicular cancer screenings in targeted communities.


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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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