The non-profit Cancer Detection Center, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is pleased to announce our jointly sponsored, second annual, “Father’s Day All Month” prostate health campaign. During the month of June, which is also National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, men at risk will be able to obtain a urological exam and a “PSA” Blood Test for the low-cost of $25.00.
As part of the June campaign, the American Cancer Society will emphasize the importance of the exam by offering free Father’s Day cards inscribed with a heartfelt, caring message: “On this special day, I want you to know how much you mean to me. And because I care, I’m asking that you make an appointment for an annual prostate cancer early detection test.” The card also includes a detachable doctor’s appointment card.
“Father’s Day is an ideal time to remind the men over 40 in your life to make an appointment for their annual check-up,” says Marvin Feldman, the Society’s Central Los Angeles Unit’s prostate cancer chair, and Public Relations Director for the Cancer Detection Center.
The Society and the Cancer Detection Center have also joined a national petition drive asking President Clinton and the U.S. Congress to commit increased funding for prostate cancer research. The petition will be delivered to the President on Father’s Day.
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer found in men and the second most common cause of death with one man dying every thirteen minutes. In 1997 an estimated 334,500 new cases will be diagnosed in the US and there will be 41,800 deaths. Prostate cancer mortality rates are more than two times higher for African-American Men than White Men. But it doesn’t have to be! The expanded use of the “Prostate Specific Antigen” Test, or PSA, in addition to the “Digital Rectal Exam, results in life-saving early detection of prostate cancer. The PSA test is “the first screening blood test” that has been recommended by the American Cancer Society.
In California, one in six African-American Men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, compared with one in eleven White Men and one in eighteen Hispanic Men. More than one half of all men diagnosed with prostate cancer will die from it within ten years. Tough odds for we men, but it doesn’t have to be with early detection!
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland, located just below the bladder, that surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder during urination.. It weighs only a few grams at birth and gradually enlarges to its adult size by age 20. The primary role of the prostate is to provide part of the fluid necessary for ejaculation.
There are several diseases that involve the prostate. Many men will develop urinary problems as they age and, unfortunately accept this as a “natural part of aging.”. This process is called “Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia” or BPH and, can impact a man’s life negatively and unnecessarily. Inflammation of the prostate gland, or prostatitis, is another condition that often affects the prostate, frequently in younger men. The most serious disease that we encounter is prostate cancer and “can be life-threatening if left untreated.” Effective treatment is available by your physician.
Signs and symptoms of prostate disease include: a weak or interrupted urine flow; inability to urinate; difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow; the need to urinate frequently, especially at night; blood in the urine; pain or burning on urination; continuing pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs. These symptoms can be caused by prostate enlargement, infection or cancer. (Facts and Figures from the American Cancer Society 1997 Facts) If you have any of these symptoms, it may indicate a potential prostate problem and you should see a physician.
The first step in diagnosing a prostate problem is the “Digital Rectal Exam.” It allows the doctor to physically check the prostate by inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. The doctor is then able to estimate the size of the prostate gland and determine whether or not lumps or other abnormal areas exist. The discomfort, if any is only momentary The PSA blood test, previously referred to, is often used in conjunction with the digital rectal examination. The term “PSA” refers to a protein in the blood that is released by the prostate. When the body’s PSA level is elevated, this may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
Sometimes, a physician may perform other tests to further determine the health of the prostate. These tests can include a urine flow test, an ultrasound and/or a biopsy.
Prostate Cancer starts as a tumor within and confined to the prostate gland. As the cancer progresses, the tumor enlarges and puts pressure on the urethra causing urinary retention, frequency, and incontinence. If the symptoms are ignored or as the disease progresses the risk that the cancer will spread to other bodily parts such as the lymph nodes, bones or other nearby organs becomes greater. Remember, early detection and treatment can prevent this from happening.
The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but the possibility of developing it increases with age. Because prostate cancer may not cause any symptoms in its early stages, and because it typically occurs in older men, all men age 50 and over, need to have a yearly rectal examination and a PSA blood test. Regular prostate check-ups beginning at age 40, are recommended for men who have a strong family history of prostate cancer and for African-American men, who are more at risk to develop this cancer than are other men.
Not all men who have prostate cancer require treatment but, for those who do there are options for surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. Prostate Cancer is fueled by testosterone, a male hormone produced mostly by the testicles. Removing the testicles or blocking the production of testosterone by medications, can control existent prostate cancer, often for long periods. Eventually prostate cancer cells are able to grow with little or no male hormones and, when this happens, doctors may suggest other forms of treatment that are currently under study.
The key to survival is Early Detection. In June, during Father’s Day All Month, “Real Men Get It Checked” with a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and a PSA Blood Test.
To obtain a low-cost prostate cancer examination, and all other cancer screening tests, you may call the Cancer Detection Center at either (213) 481-2511 or at (800) 92-CANCER.
For additional information about the Father’s Day card, the prostate cancer petition drive, or prostate cancer detection and treatment, call the American Cancer Society Central Los Angeles Unit at (213) 386-6102.
Lowell E. Irwin, M.D.
Cancer Detection Center