Gros: Tackle prostate cancer with a simple screening

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fall is right around the corner and football season has finally arrived, which means our calendars have been flipped to September.

This month is National Prostate Health Month. It is a time that health care providers raise awareness of prostate cancer and encourage men to talk to their doctors about getting screened.

Most men know all about their favorite football team; what offenses they run, player stats and defensive formations. But ask them about prostate cancer and they may be at a loss.

Many men don’t know that prostate cancer affects one in seven men, making it the most common non-skin cancer in American men.

In the usual time it takes to watch a football game, it is estimated that 67 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10 men will die from it. Fortunately, prostate cancer is one of the most treatable malignancies — if it’s caught early.

Although there is no universally agreed-upon plan for its detection, diagnosis and management, prostate cancer screenings offer an opportunity to catch the disease in its early stages when it’s potentially curable or when less aggressive treatments can be used to possibly eliminate some of the expected side effects.

The American Cancer Society recommends that men, beginning at age 45 for high-risk and age 50 for average risk, have a discussion with a physician who can review the pros and cons of testing and make a decision based on individualized risk.

If a man decides to screen, it is important for him to know screening is not a diagnosis; it is a test only.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests and the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) provide valuable information to men and their doctors, but these tests are not a conclusive diagnosis.

Abnormal results are a “red flag” that a prostate biopsy may be needed to check for prostate cancer. If treatment is needed, there are several options available.

Risks and benefits of each option should be discussed in detail with a physician.

What can you do?

Talk with your doctor about scheduling a prostate screening. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting enough exercise, eating a well-balanced healthy diet and avoiding excessive alcohol use and smoking to aid in reducing cancer risk in general.

Know the risk and spread the word. Together we can tackle prostate cancer.

The Cancer Center of Thibodaux Regional will offer free prostate screening PSA tests on Sept. 14 in Thibodaux from 5 to 7 p.m. and in Galliano on Sept. 15 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Please call 985-493-4008 for more information or to register for the screening.

Laura Gros, RN, is the patient care coordinator with the Cancer Center of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. She can be reached at 985-493-4008.