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Founded in the mid 1980s the North Carolina Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Action Team (the Action Team) was established for the purpose of addressing the prostate cancer health disparity impacting African-American and Black men in North Carolina.  Joseph Saunders, a volunteer and community health advocate affiliated with the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer and the American Cancer Society (ACS), had become increasingly concerned about the high incidence and mortality rates from the disease in our communities.  A series of meetings with American Cancer Society (ACS) officials were held to better understand the impact and what, if anything, could be done.  Through this we formed a workgroup with the ACS to explore strategies.  The workgroup included African-American community leaders, pastors, health officials and ACS staff, all deeply concerned about the alarming rates of prostate cancer in North Carolina.  This led to the formation of an organization -The North Carolina Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Action Team (the Action Team)- with a central focus on the dissemination of information about prostate cancer to African-American men and men of color.


During the 90s, the team functioned under the leadership of Raymond "Ray" Perry, until his passing in 2004 of melanoma. Ray worked for the state and was born and raised in Warrenton, NC.  During his tenure the NC Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Team expanded services to include an annual prostate health screening event in partnership with Rex Healthcare (1996-2010) and expanded services to provide support for men with prostate cancer and their caregivers, also with a particular focus on African-American men, men of color, and their families.  Three new programs were formed - the Umoja Prostate Cancer Support Group, the PC Shepherds, and the PC Angels.  


From the time of Ray's passing to 2023 James A. Smith III, MD served as the team's President.  In 2005 the Action Team was awarded 501(c) (3) status from the Department of Treasury.  In September of that year the Action Team held its 2nd Prostate Cancer Awareness and Education Conference in Raleigh.  The conference, entitled “Mobilizing Communities for Action,” was attended by over 100 individuals and was designed to support community based minority groups in addressing prostate cancer at the local level.  This resulted in the replication of Action Team activities to educate African-American communities about prostate cancer and support newly diagnosed men and their families.  Additional prostate health screening partnerships were formed with Springfield Baptist Church and WakeMed in Raleigh and Word Tabernacle Church and OIC of Rocky Mount.  Support for the team continues to grow.

Since 1985, the North Carolina Minority Prostate Cancer Awareness Action Team has distinguished itself among advocacy organizations based on a decades long commitment to fight prostate cancer.  This singular focus has allowed the organization to focus on an issue that has disproportionately impacted the African American community.  The collective effort of committed volunteers has allowed the Team to utilize culturally-tailored materials and promising practices to reach men and their families in settings that are familiar to them. The Team has focused its energies on reaching those who otherwise may not have access to prostate health information.


The Action Team has successfully mobilized leaders from the African American community – civic, fraternal, and professional organizations to reduce the disparate impact of prostate cancer in North Carolina. The corps of professionals and community leaders works in partnership with churches, Greek-letter organizations and others to disseminate information about prostate cancer, in an effort to increase the number of Black men screened annually and receiving treatment for prostate cancer during its early and potentially curable stages.


Additional milestones include:

  • Annual Awareness and Education Conference designed to increase minority engagement in prostate health activities throughout North Carolina.

  • Barbershop Campaign – Prostate health Literature and videos in participating barber shops.

  • Prostate Cancer Screening Training Workshop for hospitals in Eastern North Carolina sponsored by the Office of Former Rep. Bob Etheridge.

  • Informational Displays – CIAA Basketball Tournament, Universoul Circus, MEAC Basketball Tournament and over 50 Faith Community Health Fairs.

  • Speakers Bureau – Workshop presentations to churches, civic and community groups.

  • Feet for the Fight – Supporting partner of the Annual 5K Run at N.C. State University

  • Umoja Support Group – Raleigh based monthly support group for African-American men.

  • PC Shepherds – One-on-One support to men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

  • PC Angels – Outreach to women who have relatives or friends diagnosed with prostate cancer.

  • Annual Raleigh Screening – Community engagement held at Rex Senior Health Center for 14 years.

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