University of South Carolina, American Cancer Society, stylists join ‘Shop Talk Movement’ to battle colon cancer

September 9, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – September 8, 2008 – University of South Carolina cancer researchers and the American Cancer Society have joined the “Shop Talk Movement,” a statewide program that is training barbers and stylists across the Palmetto State to talk to their clients about the importance of colon-cancer screening and early detection. The program recently received $60,000 from the ACS.

The “Shop Talk Movement,” unveiled Monday (Sept 8) during a training session for more than 40 barbers and stylists from the Midlands, is an innovative approach to tackling colorectal cancer in the African-American community, said Tia Brewer-Footman, who co-founded of the program with her husband, Gerald Footman in Charleston.

The two are partners in the FB Consulting Group, which produces hair etc. Magazine.

“African-American barber shops and beauty salons are the cornerstone of our community,” said Brewer-Footman. “Women and men speak freely beyond the topic of hairstyles. We talk about our lives, our families and even our health concerns. Barbers and stylists are well-positioned to educate people about colon-cancer screening and early detection.”

Dr. Frank Berger, director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research (CCCR) at the University of South Carolina, said the “Shop Talk Movement” underscores the importance of community outreach to reduce the number of colorectal cancer cases in South Carolina.

“Scientists are making advances in understanding the causes, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer,” he said. “But until we are able to eradicate the disease, the second-leading cause of cancer death in our state and nation, education remains our best weapon in saving lives.”

Berger said the Palmetto State is making significant strides to increase screening and research. In recent months, more than $1.25 million has been committed to colon-cancer screening and education, including $1 million from the Legislature to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the university for screenings in Orangeburg, Richland, Lexington, Horry and Greenville counties.

BlueCross BlueShield has given the university $100,000 to support screenings in Laurens, Anderson, Abbeville and Greenwood counties, and a $50,000 gift to the CCCR from businessman and philanthropist David Pfail of Dallas, Texas, will support research and outreach. Last year the university’s CCCR received more than $10 million from the National Institutes of Health to continue funding for colorectal cancer research and outreach programs.

Too many people have misconceptions or lack information about colorectal cancer, said Gerald Footman.

“Colorectal cancer deaths in South Carolina are above the national average, and studies have shown that the majority of African-American women either know very little about this disease or don’t consider themselves to be at high risk,” he said.

The “Shop Talk Movement” recently trained more than 40 stylists and barbers in the Upstate. A training session is planned Monday, Sept. 15, in Charleston. The goal is to train more than 100 stylists and barbers throughout the Palmetto State, who will be committed to speaking to 100 clients about colorectal cancer.

Berger said the “Shop Talk Movement” unites the university, ACS and leaders in the hair and beauty industries in a major public-health effort for people in every section of the state.

“This program involves scientists, cancer experts, patient advocates and real people, all working together for South Carolinians,” he said. “What we learn through this effort will affect our citizens first, but also has the opportunity to impact lives around the nation.”