Free prostate screens being offered

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Free prostate cancer screenings are being offered to men ages 40 and offer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pike County Health Department.

The screenings will be conducted by Urology Centers of Alabama, which offered a similar screening in April 2010. At that time, 87 men took advantage of the service. Of those, 16 percent had some abnormality and at least two had positive biopsies, said Dr. Tom Moody.

“Screening for prostate cancer is very important because, like other cancers, when detected early, it is curable. If prostrate cancer is not detected early, it is not curable,” Moody said. “Prostate cancer continues to be the second leading cause of deaths among men. In 2010, 600 men in Alabama died from prostate cancer and many of those deaths could have been prevented.”

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Moody said early prostate cancer has no symptoms and, when the symptoms appear, it is often too late.

“Our goal is to reduce the number of deaths from prostate cancer through early detection,” Moody said. “We can best do that by prostate screenings for men ages 40 and over. We are trying to create the same mindset in men that women have regarding their annual checkups.”

The prostate screenings are free so there are no insurance forms to fill up or financial disclosures required.

“If the screenings find an abnormality and the individual doesn’t have the ability to pay, we will do whatever follow up is necessary,” Moody said. “We have done a lot of biopsies at the Urology Centers of Alabama and surgeries, too. We aren’t going to screen an individual and find a problem and say, ‘good luck.’ We’re going to do whatever needs to be done.”

The prostate screening is a simple procedure that includes a blood screening and a rectal examination.

“The screening only takes 10 minutes and it saves lives,” Moody said.

Urology Centers of Alabama has been conducting free prostate screenings since 2006 and to date 2,582 men in 14 counties have been screened.

“And, what is so gratifying is that many of those who were screened for the first time are returning and bringing friends with them,” Moody said. “That give us an opportunity to provide a continuity of care as far as prostate cancer is concerned.”

In 2006, Alabama received an “F” when the National Prostrate Council Coalition graded the states on how they took care of prostate cancer.

“That really bugged me that we got an ‘F,’” Moody said. “At that time, Alabama didn’t have an insurance bill that required insurance companies to pay for prostate screenings. We got an insurance bill passed and also had an opportunity to talk to legislators and got some money flowing to pay for some of the free screenings.”

Moody expressed appreciation to the Pike County Health Department for its partnership in the free prostate screening program.

“Alabama has an outstanding health department and it has worked out to be a great partnership between us and the health departments,” he said. “We like to believe that together we are doing a little good.”