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Question: Should I be screened for prostate cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute an adult male living in our community faces a 15.3% risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer and a 3% chance of dying from the disease. Fortunately with screening the rate of death from prostate cancer has declined by 37%. During Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September we would like to remind you or your loved one to be smart and be screened.

What is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor that usually begins in the outer part of the prostate. As it progresses it can block the flow of urine from the bladder and spread to the bones and throughout the body. Generally, it is slow growing, but without screening we are unable to differentiate between men with an indolent vs aggressive form of the disease.

What are some of the Risk Factors?

Age: The greatest risk factor for prostate cancer is age. More than 75 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over 65.

Family History: Men whose relatives have had prostate cancer are considered to be at high risk. Having a father or brother with the disease doubles your risk for prostate cancer.

Race: African Americans have the highest incidence of prostate cancer and they are 30% to 50% more likely to get prostate cancer than any other race in the U.S

Diet: Research also suggests high dietary fat may be a contributing factor. The disease is much more common in countries where meat and dairy products are dietary staples, compared with countries where the basic diet consists of rice, soybean products, and vegetables.

What Can I do? Regular screening is the key to catching prostate cancer in its early stages. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends an informed discussion and screening for those men interested between the age of 45 and 69. Physicians screen patients for prostate cancer by performing a digital rectal exam, in which physicians feel the prostate for abnormal areas, and by performing a blood test to evaluate the level of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA). PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland and secreted into the blood. An elevated level could indicate that cancer is present; although other benign conditions such as enlarged or inflamed prostate also may cause elevated levels of PSA.

Marian Cancer Care is providing a free prostate cancer screening for men without health coverage and between the ages of 45 to 69 on Saturday, Sept. 14 from 9-11 a.m. at Mission Hope Conference Room, Santa Maria, or Saturday, Oct. 19, 9-11 a.m. at Mission Hope Arroyo Grande (3rd Floor of Matthew Will Memorial Medical Center). Please call (805) 219-HOPE (4673) to register as space is limited.

HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by Marian Regional Medical Center Cancer Program invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: mariancancercare@dignityhealth.org

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Dr. Sam Kiely is a highly respected Urologic Oncologist and a speaker on the topic of prostate cancer prevention and treatment.

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