Dr. Tewari on the launch of a mobile prostate cancer screening unit

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“My goal was very simple. Five years from now, there will be X number of more fathers, brothers, grandfathers who will be having dinners with their families because of what I'm doing, because I will find the cancer early and hopefully make an impact,” says Ashutosh Tewari, MD.

In this video, Ashutosh K. Tewari, MD, discusses the development of a mobile unit designed to increase access to prostate cancer screening in underserved communities. Tewari is the chair of urology at the Mount Sinai Health System and a professor of urology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, New York.

Video Transcript:

I started thinking about why Black men have more aggressive prostate cancer. Theoretically, I can give you many reasons. It's multifactorial. It's an understanding about prostate cancer, attitudes towards health care, socioeconomics, access, insurance. This is one group of clusters. Second group of clusters is that sometimes there are other medical issues going on: hypertension, comorbidities, diabetes, and sometimes metabolic syndrome. All those things complicate things. If there is an inflammation happening in the body, same cancer in a healthy body vs an inflamed body, it's going to make cancer grow more fast. So, that's another aspect. Then the third aspect is there are certain molecular pathways and all those things which make cancer a little bit different, sometimes more aggressive. But this aggressive behavior is not that strong that we cannot make a change. I started thinking about can I put together a mobile unit. If they don't come to me, how about we go to you. We come to your churches, we come to your schools, we come to your community centers, we come to places where you are meeting for playing basketball, and we will offer you this screening. Not only will offer you a screening–we will give you an good understanding about what prostate cancer is. We'll talk about what the nutrition is, what diet is, what are the healthy things we can do, and that kind of thing.

With that mindset, my goal was that in the first year, I will get to about 1000 patients. My goal was very simple. Five years from now, there will be X number of more fathers, brothers, grandfathers who will be having dinners with their families because of what I'm doing, because I will find the cancer early and hopefully make an impact. Guess what? I crossed 5000 patients in 1 year and a few months. It became a very successful venture. I reached out to my patients, my friends, and my supporters for philanthropy. I wrote a business plan. I wrote a proposal. This was a simplistic approach, but this bus is bigger than my first apartment in Clement Street in San Francisco. It has a doctor's office, it has a PSA right then and there, it has a mean blood draw, ultrasound. All those things are built in as if my Madison Avenue office is on wheels. It has really traveled everywhere. New York is a very contrasting place. On the upper east side, there may be billionaires, but 2 miles north and south, there may be people who need this help. I just approached it in a simple way, and it seems to be clicking. I'm really happy that it's making a difference.

Now my challenge is a little different. Sometimes even after finding that they have an abnormal PSA, they are difficult to track down. I'm sending my team members to their homes. Sometimes they don't have a cell phone, so I'm trying to get a cricket cell phone, which is a government given free cell phone so that we can track them down. That's my next challenge which is going on. I know that they are there; I know that they have an abnormal PSA. Now I have to shake them up. So, that's what's going on, that's how I started it. I come from a totally different background. I came from India. I came from the trenches. I knew if you really want to make a difference, think beyond paper and pencil, just show up at different locations. It seems to be working.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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