In an letter to the editor on March 15, a comment was made that the stand of the American Cancer Society (ACS) on prostate cancer is that "what men don't know won't hurt them. And besides if they did know they would just be confused about what to do about it." I was troubled by this, so I did a little research. On the ACS Web site link "Detailed Guide - Prostate Cancer; Can Prostate Cancer Be Found Early," I learned that most prostate cancer is slow growing, but not all.
If you are old and in chronic poor health when your diagnosis is confirmed, the chances are you will die from something other than prostate cancer. Nowhere is it recommended that you do nothing, though it does offer a few counterpoints to be considered. ACS guidelines in the article state that routine screening should begin at age 50 if there is no prostate history in your family. If you have risk factors, the age goes down.
My prostate cancer was found on a "routine" health physical 15 months ago. I had no symptoms, and no family history of this particular cancer. A routine PSA lab test (I requested this test since I was over 50) preceded my scheduled physical exam which included a DRE. Both tests indicated I needed a biopsy, which confirmed the dreaded "Big C." I pored over the ACS Web site, and many others, gathering information and deciding my best approach to my treatment.
Each individual, man or woman, is entitled to be involved in their own care, and as such the ACS offers a plethora of information, and provides links to other sites that provide an additional wealth of information. The key factor to wellness is making an informed decision based on physician recommendations, personal research, and one's own belief system and comfort level.
The Relay For Life is 5,000-plus communities across this country doing their little bit to raise funds for cancer research so our "source of information" can continue to grow. As a prostate cancer survivor, and the 2010 Event Chair for the Relay For Life of the Central Peninsula (June 4-5), I strongly encourage that all persons follow the ACS recommended guidelines. If you don't like their recommendations, then follow the reputable organization that has guidelines you can live with.
If you are concerned, get checked. If you are not concerned, get checked anyway. After that, use some common sense and understand you do have a say in your health care.
2010 Relay For Life Event Chair
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