Blue football penalties to flag prostate cancer awareness

High school football penalty flags go blue this week in Washington and parts of Hawaii and New Mexico for the Center's award-winning 'Coaches Against Cancer' campaign
Blue is the color associated with prostate cancer, the most common type of cancer found in American men, other than skin cancer. Center News file photo

For the fourth year, high school football officials throughout the state of Washington and in parts of Hawaii and New Mexico will raise the profile of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month by replacing traditional yellow penalty flags with blue flags during varsity games played Sept. 15-17.

Juan Cotto, manager of the Center's Community Outreach program, created the "Coaches Against Cancer" campaign to raise awareness of this common cancer during September, which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Blue is the color now associated with prostate cancer, like the color pink is for breast cancer.

"The Hutchinson Center is proud to partner with the state official associations to build awareness of prostate cancer through Coaches Against Cancer," said Dr. Pete Nelson, prostate cancer investigator in the Human Biology Division. "We want to encourage all men to talk with their doctors about appropriate prostate screening."

Making every penalty count for cancer

"In most situations, officials want to avoid attention during games, but for three days we are hoping to attract a little attention with every penalty that is called," said Todd Stordahl, commissioner of Washington Officials Association. "By switching to blue flags, it will at least make the fans notice that something is different. This is a great way for the officials to participate in an activity that will increase awareness of a disease that has had an impact on many lives, including some of those who are out on the field as officials."

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men, other than skin cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, behind only lung cancer. One man in six will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, and one man in 36 will die of this disease.

More than two million U.S. prostate cancer survivors

The American Cancer Society's most recent statistics show about 240,890 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States; about 33,720 deaths from prostate cancer will occur in 2011. The good news is that more than two million men in the U.S. who have had prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.

Men over the age of 40 should talk to their doctors about prostate cancer screening and lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk of getting the disease.

In 2010, Coaches Against Cancer received a "Communitas Award" from the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals.

[Adapted from news releases by the Hutchinson Center and Washington Officials Association]

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