Free prostate screening offered April 17

Published 8:23 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A free exam and 10 minutes of a man’s time could save his life.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of male cancer-related deaths in the United States. Alabama’s prostate cancer death rate ranks third highest in the nation.

When Dr. Thomas Moody, president of Urology Health Foundation in Birmingham, heard those statistics, he took them very personally.

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“For more than 50 years, Urology Centers of Alabama has been committed to providing the highest quality medical services,” Moody said. “I believed that we had an obligation to help rectify the situation.”

To do so, Moody and his colleagues at the Urology Centers of Alabama in Birmingham now provide free prostate cancer screenings to males ages 40 years and older in undeserved areas.

Free prostate cancer screenings will be offered from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, at the Pike County Health Department in Troy. Those who are age qualified are encouraged to take advantage of this potentially life saving opportunity.

Prior to offering this free service, Moody and his colleagues at the Urology Center in Birmingham began to look seriously at the reasons Alabama ranked so high with regard to deaths from prostate cancer.

“First, Alabama had no insurance bill to cover the cost of prostate cancer screening,” he said. “The state appropriated $400,000 for breast and cervical cancer screenings but none for prostate cancer screenings. And, the number of those who went for screenings was very low.”

Moody said it was time for the Urology Center of Alabama to step to the plate and the physicians encouraged the Legislature to do its part. Rep. Alan Boothe of Pike County was one who supported a bill in the Legislature to provided funding for prostate cancer screening.

The Urology Center was willing to do its part by offering free screenings to undeserved counties.

“We had an obligation to help and, because if prostate cancer is detected early, lives can be saved,” Moody said.

When the free prostate screenings were offered to a county in the Black Belt, Moody said he was asked what would be done if a problem was found and the individual had no insurance and no way to pay for the treatment.

“We were told ‘don’t come’ if you are going to do the screenings and then abandon those with problems who can’t pay,’” Moody said. “We don’t do that. My colleagues provide that safety net. If a problem is found through our free prostate cancer screenings and an individual can’t pay and can get to Birmingham, our physicians will do the surgery and we have hospitals that will provide a room. We won’t abandon anyone.”

One in every six men will get prostate cancer sometime in their lives. An estimated 27,360 men will die from prostate cancer this year, 500 of those in Alabama. Prostate cancer screenings can mean a difference between life and death. The screening for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test called a PSA that measures the level of protein in the blood. Normally, PSA is found in the blood at very low levels. Elevated PSA readings can be a sign of prostate cancer.

A physical examination is also given to detect prostate cancer. This exam is called a DRE or digital rectal exam. These tests take about 10 minutes to perform. Tests results will be made available in about a week.