Last week I read an article in my local newspaper that, at first, got me a little cranky and then just outright pissed me off. Right after the (little known) September dedication as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, no less.
Maybe that’s our problem – too many “awareness” dedications instead of a steady stream of information being published by the media.
Anyway, this new report (released Friday, October 7, by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) claims that screening for prostate cancer via a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test is too costly for our American society; in unnecessary surgeries and treatments for prostate cancer. They further claim, “For men 50 to 69 years old, the task force found that "reduction in prostate cancer mortality 10 years after screening is small to none."
I think someone forgot to tell my brother’s doctor. He insisted on doing a PSA during a routine exam even though there had been no symptoms (no pain, no enlargement, no difficulties in trying to take a leak, no blood in the urine or semen, no lumps detected during the DRE (Digital Rectal Exam). Astronomical levels (10+) were listed on the report and he got referred for a biopsy. The biopsy came back Positive for the most aggressive type of prostate cancer. The tumor was growing on the backside of the gland, in a place non-detectable by the DRE. Surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic removed his prostate and lymph nodes (which had already been invaded) and, thankfully, he’s still alive. Had that PSA screening not been done, within three to six months he would’ve been listed as “terminal.”
Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’d much rather go through an eventually unnecessary, uncomfortable biopsy than die from a disease which could’ve been discovered and treated.
The adage “If you live long enough, chances are, you’ll develop prostate cancer” is most likely true. But, like most cancers, this disease doesn’t care if you’re 20 or 120. Always, always, always discuss the pro’s and con’s of PSA screening with your doctor. Don’t let a yearly physical exam go by without mentioning it.
Yes, you could end up like my brother with a prick that doesn’t want to stand up enough to poke anything and stay there but, as he found out through a sex therapist, there are things you can do to entertain and enjoy your pecker and relieve those full, achy balls. It may not be what you were used to when you were, say a horny 16-year-old kid, but it’s better than being 6-feet under.