Men, a simple blood test can save your life
Richmond, VA – In an effort to raise awareness about a cancer with the second-most cases in Virginia, a Richmond-based nonprofit has launched a campaign designed to encourage men to get better informed about prostate cancer, including understanding the results of their PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test.
“Get Proactive for Prostate Health” is a public education initiative sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Educational Institute of Virginia (PCEIVa), an organization created by prostate cancer survivors to provide support and education for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, which afflicts some 241,000 men annually.
“Early detection can make a critical difference in treating prostate cancer,” said Bert Jones, founder of PCEIV and himself a prostate cancer survivor. “That is the case for many cancers, but prostate cancer, in particular. That is why the Institute works to raise awareness about early diagnoses, treatments and prevention, information that can literally save someone’s life.”
J. Daniel Pennington, MD, PhD, a radiation oncologist and member of the PCEIVa board, says that the pandemic has raised the stakes on testing this year.
“A lot of men have cancelled or delayed their routine preventive visits because of the pandemic, and we are now seeing more advanced cancers across many disease sites, which may well be due to delayed diagnoses. Our message should be crystal clear – get your PSA test regularly and understand your results.”
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer has the fifth-highest mortality rate. Compared with white men, African-American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease. Studies also show a genetic predisposition to the disease.
PCEIVa encourages men to not only get an annual PSA test, a blood test that indicates the presence or likelihood of prostate cancer, but the Institute urges men to understand what the results mean. It is important to create a baseline for your individual PSA number. An early indicator of the possibility of the presence of prostate cancer is if the PSA number doubles. Typically, Caucasian men should start screening for prostate cancer at age 50. Those who have a history of prostate cancer in their family and African-American men should start screening at the age of 40. The Institute also encourages men to seek out expertise beyond their regular doctor by seeing a urologist. Annual DREs (digital rectal exams) also are advisable.
The Institute also recommends that men be aware of the signs of prostate cancer, which can include blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, lower back pain as well as other symptoms, and to reduce the risks of prostate cancer, it advocates for regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet low in fat and dairy with an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
For more information on PCEIVa, including details on its monthly support group, visit https://pceiva.org/.