We Can Win the Fight Against Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer is hitting Black men below the belt. African– American men give this killer disease the advantage by avoiding aggressive prevention and treatment steps that can literally mean the difference between life and death. The prostate gland is a walnut–sized, male reproductive organ located in the lower groin. Science has proved heredity is a factor in the startling increase of this disease in Black men, particularly if a man’s father had the disease. Lifestyle, especially diet, may also play a key role.

One thing is sure: annual testing between ages 45 and 50 is essential for long life and good health. Earlier testing may be necessary if there’s a family history of the disease. If you are an African–American man, don’t let apathy, misplaced macho attitudes, fear or embarrassment all prevent you from getting tested.

The screening for prostate cancer is simple. Most often it involves a digital rectal exam undertaken in a doctor’s office. The procedure is short and painless. A blood test may follow to determine the amount of prostate specific antigen or PSA in the blood – an indicator of certain chemical changes that may indicate the presence of cancer. If prostate cancer is detected, many treatment options exist from daily medication to radiation and surgery. Sometimes when prostate cancer is detected no treatment other than regular monitoring may be called for because the cancer is slow growing and presents no immediate threat to health of the patient.

Although there has been some controversy regarding the accuracy of screening for prostate cancer, a new twist on the standard way to predict prostate cancer risk appears to offer African–American men an improved accuracy in detecting the disease.

The free prostate specific antigen test (fPSA) — a variation on the traditional PSA test — shows the new test proves as accurate in revealing cancer risk in Black men as it is in Caucasians.

The fPSA, a more sensitive test for cancer risk than the standard PSA test men get as part of routine physicals was approved by the FDA based on a national trial of 773 men who had both tests as well as prostate biopsies. This trial showed that fPSA detected 95 percent of the cancers. It also reduced unnecessary prostate biopsies that men would have routinely after the standard PSA test.

This test could spare many Black men the expense and trauma of prostate biopsies, as approximately 75 percent of the prostate biopsies that both black and white men get are unnecessary.

Prostate Cancer must become the concern of all Black men and the women who love them. And while regular testing should begin in midlife, it’s never too early to learn factual information about prevention, testing and treatment.

Remember, the reality of this disease among African–American men is not killing us– a lack of action is. So brothers, be proactive by thinking and acting in a positive way. See your doctor or visit your local health clinic and knock Prostate Cancer down for a ten count!

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