In recognition of Men's Health Week, which culminates on Father's Day, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (D-Bronx/Westchester) today urged all men age 50 and older to take better care of themselves by getting the facts about a simple screening test that could save their lives.
"Only about half of the men at risk for prostate cancer get screened for the disease," Senator Hassell-Thompson explained. "There are no noticeable symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer, which is why testing is so critical."
According to the American Cancer Society, one in every six men will get prostate cancer sometime in his lifetime. African-American men are at special risk for the disease, with the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world: one in four men. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of male cancer-related death in the United States, but more than 99 percent of patients survive if the disease is detected and treated early.
"The trick is catching it early," the Bronx/Westchester lawmaker said. "A screening test for prostate cancer takes only 10 minutes, and New York State law requires health insurance policies to cover diagnostic screening. Actually, the hardest part may be convincing Dad to make an appointment."
Screening for prostate cancer typically involves two steps: a blood test, known as PSA, and a physical examination of the prostate, called a digital rectal exam, or DRE. Screening can't show if you have the disease, only whether further tests are needed. While the American Cancer Society does not recommend routine testing for prostate cancer, they suggest men speak with their doctors about the risks and benefits of screening.
"Each man needs to have the best information possible to make the decision that is right for him," Senator Hassell-Thompson said. "Before screening tests made early detection available, only one in four cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the early stages of disease. Now, with screening, about nine out of 10 cases are diagnosed early, giving more men a fighting chance.
"New York families celebrate Father's Day in countless ways. Some hunt. Some fish. Some picnic at the park. But we all have one thing in common; it's called gratitude," said Senator Hassell-Thompson. "So on this festive day, in addition to giving hugs, cards and gifts, let's give thanks to the heroes we call Dad by urging them to get checked for prostate cancer, a silent killer."
For more information, call the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-800-ACS-2345, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or visit their web site at www.cancer.org.