Prostate screening participation increases

Published 6:15 am Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Urology Centers of Alabama, the Urology Health Foundation and the Pike County Health Department screened a record 114 men for prostate cancer on Saturday at the Pike County Health Department.

“That was 30 more than last year and that is encouraging because it shows that more men are realizing the importance of being screened for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Thomas E. Moody, president of the Urology Health Foundation. “Last year, several men who were screened in Pike County were diagnosed with prostate cancer and received treatment. That’s why it is important to start being screened for prostate cancer at age 40.”

Moody said that prostate cancer is the second leading killer, behind lung cancer, among men in the United States. One in six men and, one in four African American men, will have prostate cancer sometime in their life.

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“Early detection and treatment are key factors in addressing prostate cancer,” Moody said.

“No one knows the exact cause of prostate cancer. Doctors can seldom explain why one man develops the disease and another does not.”

However, Moody said that research has shown that men with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop prostate cancer.

“A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease,” he said.

“Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer. The disease is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of getting it goes up sharply as a man ages.

“A man’s risk of prostate cancer is higher than average if his brother, father or uncle had the disease. Race is also a risk factor for prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer is particularly important for African American men because they are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and their death rate from this disease is two and one-half times greater than the rate for Caucasian men.”

Because there are no noticeable symptoms of prostate cancer while it is still in the early stages, Moody said that is why screening is so critical. In more advanced stages, symptoms may include difficult or frequent urination, blood in the urine or bone pain.

Screening for prostate cancer involves a simple blood test called a PSA that measures the level of protein called prostate-specific antigen in the blood.

“Normally PSA is found in the blood at very low levels,” Moody said. “Elevated PSA readings can be a sign of prostate cancer.  A physical examination, a DRE or digital rectal exam, is also given to detect prostate cancer.

Moody strongly suggests that men, ages 40 and over be screened annually for prostate cancer.

“The screenings only take about 10 minutes and they do save lives,” he said.